The American anthem was a moment of perfect demonstration. When, at the stand in Union Square Park, located several hundred meters below the Capitol, a lady sang the first verse, the voices of the demonstrators were scattered, muffled. The lady sang without any real support, and that didn’t bother her much. We could clearly distinguish the observers and the participants, who came on Saturday, September 18 in Washington to express their solidarity with those arrested on January 6, at the time of the dramatic assault aimed at preventing the validation of the result of the presidential election. American democracy had trembled, finding itself more vulnerable than it imagined.
This time, they were just a hundred and not thousands, rather elderly, fewer than the police deployed on foot, by bike or near their vehicles, closing the adjacent streets, watching every burst of voices. Also less numerous than the journalists, attracted by the most picturesque outfits: a Batman outfit here, a beaver tail on the head of another. Some photographers had prepared for any eventuality, wearing bulletproof vests and helmets.
Little folklore, in the end. A negligible crowd. So, should we even raise the holding of this event? Yes, if we consider that most of the united public has stayed at home but thinks none the less. Yes, if we remember that this meeting contributes to a victim story that bounces from screen to screen, among Republican sympathizers, the faithful of Donald Trump and, more broadly, in this America which imagines itself in a parallel fiction : that of an entry into resistance against an allegedly dictatorial and abusive federal power.
“Political prisoners” was the most current expression, in conversations between demonstrators and on the platform. “Justice for J6” (“Justice for January 6”) said the slogan of this rally. Originally confined to the extremist fringes, this dialectical reversal has now become commonplace within the conservative and identity right. It is less a question of denying the violence that took place that day – condemned by speakers on Saturday – than of placing the emphasis on the alleged violation of the rights of the Americans arrested. “Black Lives Matter rioters not even persecuted,” a sign said.
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