Tiny rally at Kansas Capitol seeks big change in treatment of Jan. 6 ‘political prisoners’

Audience of five doesn’t disappoint organizer seeking support for protesters

By: - October 2, 2021 3:27 pm
Ian Camacho, research director for Look Ahead America, said he would have preferred more than five people attend a rally at the Kansas Capitol on behalf of "political prisoners" charged after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Screen capture/Kansas Reflector)

Ian Camacho, research director for Look Ahead America, said he would have preferred more than five people attend a rally at the Kansas Capitol on behalf of “political prisoners” charged after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Screen capture/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — A handful of people showed up at the Kansas statehouse to make a case Saturday that federal prosecutors were unfair to hundreds of Jan. 6 insurrectionists who breached the national Capitol building while contesting the election loss of President Donald Trump.

Ian Camacho, who organized the gathering on behalf of Look Ahead America, said the objective was to nonviolently express his views and meet people in Kansas seeking justice for the protesters. He said he would have preferred attendance of more than five people, but welcomed the opportunity to urge state and federal politicians to intervene on behalf of “political prisoners” charged in aftermath of the incursion at the U.S. Capitol.

“We made very clear we were a peaceful, First Amendment protest,” Camacho said in an interview. “It’s raising awareness. Glad we got a chance to do it.”

Camacho, a Texan who serves as research director at Look Ahead America, said people snared by the U.S. Department of Justice were accurately described as political prisoners because they were being treated more severely than anti-Trump protesters who caused property damage at the inauguration of the Republican president in 2017.

“All those people were let out,” he said. “That was clearly political in nature.”

In January, the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., was a scene of chaos while a mob of Trump supporters pushed past law enforcement officers to physically disrupt a joint session of Congress convened to formalize the victory of President Joe Biden. One protester was shot and killed inside the Capitol, while more than 130 law enforcement officers were injured. The intruders caused millions of dollars in damage.

The U.S. House impeached Trump for incitement of insurrection, but he was acquitted by the U.S. Senate. The former president has  spread false claims that he lost due to widespread election fraud. Trump also said he was convinced people who entered the U.S. Capitol were “being persecuted so unfairly.”

More than 650 people, including residents of Kansas, have been charged with federal crimes for their part in the attack.

Matt Braynard, executive director of Look Ahead America, said “Justice for J6” rallies across the country were intended to raise the profile of “nonviolent political prisoners” denied due process and the opportunity to express political beliefs. He said critics of the rallies were spreading “fear porn” to intimidate attendees.

Braynard, a former Trump campaign aide, said state lawmakers should pass resolutions instructing federal representatives to take action on behalf of people charged with crimes stemming from the January insurrection.

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Tim Carpenter
Tim Carpenter

Tim Carpenter has reported on Kansas for 35 years. He covered the Capitol for 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal and previously worked for the Lawrence Journal-World and United Press International. He has been recognized for investigative reporting on Kansas government and politics. He won the Kansas Press Association's Victor Murdock Award six times. The William Allen White Foundation honored him four times with its Burton Marvin News Enterprise Award. The Kansas City Press Club twice presented him its Journalist of the Year Award and more recently its Lifetime Achievement Award. He earned an agriculture degree at Kansas State University and grew up on a small dairy and beef cattle farm in Missouri. He is an amateur woodworker and drives Studebaker cars.

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