- Capitol police and other law enforcement authorities were on high alert for a rally supporting January 6 rioters.
- In the end, police officers and journalists outnumbered the 150 to 200 protesters who attended the Justice for J6 rally.
- Photographer Alan Chin was there to document the scene and talk to the protesters.
- See more stories on Insider's business page.
The Justice for J6 rally began at noon on Saturday in front of the US Capitol. There were far more police officers, journalists, and counter-protesters than the 150 to 200 protesters who attended.
A few minutes before the scheduled start, the strains of Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli's signature "Con te partirò" suddenly started blasting over the Mall at high volume.
Robert Jimenez, an audio engineer and owner of "All About Shows" based in Silver Spring, Maryland, confessed that he always does his soundchecks with opera. He said that he received the gig from Matt Braynard, a former Trump administration staffer, and the "Look Forward America" group three weeks before, with a 50% deposit of the $7500 fee for the sound system, stage, and video screen.
"I have to submit my ID and business license to the police for any event we do here, so I need at least five days' notice," he said. "Today, I have five staff including myself and three volunteers. We had to bring generators for power."
US Capitol police made a show of force with new riot armor and shields. The city was clearly determined to avoid the stunning, violent scene that unfolded on Jan. 6, when thousands of protesters forced their way into the Capitol. 643 alleged rioters would later face criminal charges.
In the days leading up to Saturday's protest, The Proud Boys and other right-wing groups urged people to stay away.
A woman who would identify herself only as Kesia from Maryland said she attended the Jan. 6 rally.
"I will be out here again and I was here on Jan. 6th and I'm not ashamed to say that," she said.
A young man in a raccoon-fur hat was less forthcoming. He declined to answer questions about where he was from, whether he was at the Capitol on Jan. 6, or to give his name. "I'm not saying anything about myself or where I was on any day, ever. They should never have been arrested. I just want to be visible," he said, adding that he saw the Biden administration as illegitimate.
As for his hat, he said that he had made it using the "frontiersman's method."
"You take the raccoon and make a cut starting from the base of the feet, back. Then you cut a brim around the front, and take the feet and stitch them to the beginning of the curve, and stitch up the inside. That's it. I do it as a hobby. I'll be watching videos as I'm working. You can do it in 20-25 minutes," he said.
Between the police and a large showing from the media, the protesters' showing was modest. A counter-protester, Tim Smith, came with a handmade sign that read "LOSER" in the same style as the signs from the 2020 Trump campaign.
The sign mocked former President Donald Trump, who lost the 2020 presidential election and baselessly claimed it was due to voter fraud.
Geraldine Lovell, from Prince George's County, Maryland, was one of the first protesters to arrive, and was initially warned by the police that if she were counter-protesting, she would have to go elsewhere to an adjacent but physically separated area that they had prepared. She assured the police that she was in support of the demonstration.
Another protester, Thomas Ritchie, said he moved to Washington DC 4 months ago, after spending the last 11 years in Helena, Montana. He said that the staff he carried had been a gift from his Montana church.
"I am wearing a sackcloth because of everything that is wrong and evil with the world, he said. "I know something big is going to happen, I just don't know what, yet, or when. We kill people for killing people."
The rally was organized by former Trump staffer Matt Braynard. When a journalist asked him to identify himself, Braynard replied, "you should do your homework," and walked away.
Diane Atkins said she goes by "Diane *Anglo-Saxon* Atkins" and identifies as a "Proud Christian American, Republican, activist."
Behind her, a member of a private security team guarding the state and the rally speakers was wearing a mask that said "I can't breathe" and "Black Lives Matter."
None of the guards answered questions about their assignment nor identified themselves.
Jeremiah Shivers came from Massachusetts with his family and his Great Dane to attend the rally. The dog was wearing a sign that said "Abolish the Democrats."
In total, police made four arrests and seized two weapons on Saturday.
No injuries were reported.