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Former Trump campaign staffer to lead protest against Capitol riot arrests

A rally in support of rioters arrested after Jan. 6 is scheduled amid security concerns over threats of violence by people who believe Donald Trump will be reinstated as president.

By Matt Cohen - August 11, 2021
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Capitol rioters with Q sign

Matt Braynard, who served as data chief for the 2016 presidential campaign of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, has announced that he will host a rally on Sept. 18 in support of people charged with crimes in connection with the rioting by Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

In 2017, Braynard founded a nonprofit organization called Look Ahead America, which says on its website that its mission is to “register, educate, and enfranchise” the “rural and blue-collar patriotic Americans who are disaffected and disenfranchised from the nation’s corridors of power.”

He had announced on Steve Bannon’s podcast in late July that he was organizing a “huge” rally to “push back on the phony narrative that there was an insurrection.”

In a video posted to YouTube on Aug. 9, Braynard said that the event, which he is calling the “#JusticeforJ6 Rally,” would be co-hosted by Cara Castronuova, a celebrity fitness trainer, conservative commentator, and co-founder of a nonprofit organization called Citizens Against Political Persecution.

Braynard teased a lineup of speakers that he said would be announced in the coming days. “These are people that you are going to be very excited to hear are joining their voices with ours and are going to be at the rally as part of our effort to raise awareness of this tragedy, of this grave violation of civil rights of hundreds of our fellow Americans,” he said.

Braynard says that he has obtained a permit for the rally, which is to be held on the West Lawn of the Capitol, and a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police Department told the Huffington Post that the permit was approved. A spokesperson for the Capitol Police confirmed to WUSA9 that they’re aware of the rally.

More than 500 people have been charged with crimes by the Department of Justice for actions taken during the riot at the Capitol, as a result of which five people died. Since Jan. 6, four Capitol Police officers who responded to the riot have died by suicide.

Braynard told Bannon in July that the protest was “largely peaceful” and that any violence happened in instances where protesters were “egged on in many cases by the Capitol Police.”

Braynard kept a relatively low profile throughout the Trump presidency but reemerged in the aftermath of the 2020 election, when he began independently collecting voting data and, in collaboration with the Thomas More Society, a conservative legal organization with ties to Trump’s legal team, claimed it proved there had been massive fraud.

Braynard’s voting data was cited in multiple failed lawsuits filed by Trump lawyers and supporters in an attempt to overturn the election results.

In the months since Jan. 6, Braynard has also been one of the leading conservative voices trying to reframe the narrative of the insurrection. He’s been holding rallies in support of people arrested for their actions on Jan. 6 all summer, including one at the D.C. Central Detention Facility on July 17 that drew about 100 people.

Braynard asked in his announcement on YouTube that attendees at the rally “be respectful and kind to all law enforcement officers who may be present. … And if they ask you to do something, please do so.”

Meanwhile, intelligence communities have warned that there remains a serious threat of violence from right-wing extremist groups. On Aug. 6, ABC News shared a Department of Homeland Security bulletin that warned of “an increasing but modest level of activity online” by 2020 election, noting, “Some conspiracy theories associated with reinstating former President Trump have included calls for violence if desired outcomes are not realized.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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