“I'm a little disappointed,” said Linde Barrera, a retired public school teacher from New York, who said she came to the demonstration on a bus with about 20 other people. “I think that more people probably still wanted to come, but they were a little scared, so they canceled.”
She carried a sign with a message written in glitter glue: “Jan. 6 jailees should sue the swamp.”
Others, still, were happy that anyone came at all. Matt Braynard , an organizer of the event who temporarily worked for President Donald Trump's campaign, started by remarking on the “wonderful” turnout.
"As much as it was discouraged, I'm glad to see some people," said Bernie Hoffman, a resident of nearby Arlington, Virginia. He also attended the Jan. 6 rally, though he said he did not go into the Capitol. “It could have been me” being arrested on trespassing charges, he said. “What's going on in this place is way beyond outrageous.”
Law enforcement, concerned by another security failure related to Jan. 6, improved protection in anticipation of the event. Unscalable fencing that surrounded the Capitol for months after Jan. 6 was set up again in anticipation of the rally. Around three dozen Washington, D.C., snow plow trucks lined 3rd Street, blocking access to the road. Two squads of Capitol Police officers in riot gear walked up to the rally during the program to stand guard at the barrier behind the stage blocking access to the Capitol. A police helicopter flew overhead.
But despite warnings of violence, no brawls broke out during the rally. Hoards of reporters and photographers were sprinkled throughout the crowd, gathering in large groups around any animated rally goers who would speak to the media. A block away, left-wing protesters gathered for a small counter demonstration.
The demonstration was arranged by Look Ahead America, an organization founded by Braynard. He went to great lengths to counter claims that the event was pro-rioter, with instructions for the assembly asking attendees to be respectful to law enforcement and not to bring campaign paraphernalia.
But prominent lawmakers and critics had marked the event as a possibly violent continuation to Jan. 6. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that “these people are coming back to praise the people who were out to kill, out to kill members of Congress.”
News about the rally led Trump and some of his allies to release the event, which may have depressed turnout.