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Right-Wing Demonstrators Gather At The Capitol In Support Of The Jan. 6 Rioters


So far, the demonstrations at the U.S. Capitol look to be pretty much a dud. It's a gathering to protest the ongoing criminal cases that are related to the January 6 attack on the Capitol. At the moment, there seem to be more people being prosecuted for that attack than demonstrating today. Criminal cases continue to pile up. There are new charges every week. And NPR's been tracking the progress of these cases in a dedicated database. To tell us more, we're joined now by Meg Anderson from NPR's investigations team. Meg, thanks so much for being with us.


SIMON: Help us understand what today is all about.

ANDERSON: So the rally today - it's by this group Look Ahead America. And it's part of an effort to portray the people that were at the January 6 riot as a group that just had a few bad apples in the bunch.

SIMON: We, of course, know that that explanation is just not accurate. What does your report show?

ANDERSON: That's right. The idea that January 6 wasn't violent just isn't reality. Our database shows that more than 1 in 5 defendants are charged with committing an act of violence, like assaulting a police officer. And when we say assault, many of them came prepared to do harm, sometimes with whatever they could find - stun guns, baseball bats, even a sledgehammer and a cattle prod. At least 140 police officers were injured in the attack, including some with really serious injuries, like damage to their spine and brain.

SIMON: Is anyone behind bars for any of the events of January 6 right now?

ANDERSON: Yes, but it's a very small number. Ninety percent of the more than 600 defendants are awaiting trial at home. Only 70 of them are in federal custody, and those are cases where a judge has ruled that it's safer for that person to remain behind bars ahead of their trial.

SIMON: Let's take this full group of defendants. What do we know about them? What are some of the breakdowns?

ANDERSON: Well, they were mostly white, middle class and middle-aged, mostly men but quite a few women, as well. And one of the interesting things here is that beyond that, you really can't generalize about who these defendants are. Certainly, there were some members of the far-right extremist groups like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, but most of them didn't have any real ties to these kinds of extremist groups. But when you read through these criminal complaints - and mind you, me and my team - we've read through 600 of them now - you do see similar extremist ideologies pop up. So a lot of people reference QAnon. They talk about the stolen election, which - you know, we know there's no evidence for either of those. And in fact, 10% of them say flat out that they went to D.C. on the 6 because Trump told them to.

SIMON: So according to this group, the protests today are to argue in behalf of those who have been charged. So what's the state of the 600 cases?

ANDERSON: Well, they're moving slowly. At least 70 people so far have pleaded guilty. The majority of those plea agreements are for misdemeanors, many for what is called parading through the building. And most of those people likely won't spend any time in jail. The first person sentenced, Anna Morgan Lloyd, has to complete community service and pay a $500 fine. But people being sentenced for felonies are facing prison time. So Paul Hodgkins, for example - he was convicted of obstruction of justice. He was sentenced to prison for eight months and has to turn himself in in the next few days. But mostly, we're still waiting. Many people have yet to be sentenced. That's going to come in the weeks and months ahead. And jury trials will likely begin next year.

SIMON: Meg Anderson, who was reporting for NPR's investigations team. Thanks very much for being with us.

ANDERSON: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Meg Anderson is an editor on NPR's Investigations team, where she shapes the team's groundbreaking work for radio, digital and social platforms. She served as a producer on the Peabody Award-winning series Lost Mothers, which investigated the high rate of maternal mortality in the United States. She also does her own original reporting for the team, including the series Heat and Health in American Cities, which won multiple awards, and the story of a COVID-19 outbreak in a Black community and the systemic factors at play. She also completed a fellowship as a local reporter for WAMU, the public radio station for Washington, D.C. Before joining the Investigations team, she worked on NPR's politics desk, education desk and on Morning Edition. Her roots are in the Midwest, where she graduated with a Master's degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.