Dozens of protestors came to the Florida Capitol Saturday to demand release of “incarcerated patriots” arrested in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Those rallying waved American flags and banners emblazoned with “Don’t Tread On Me,” “76” and “We the People.” Cars honked as they passed by, some shouting words of support to those at the rally, others shouting “terrorists” and “traitors.”
About 100 people rallied on the lawn of the Historic Capitol Museum. They flashed signs at passersby and chanted, “Let them go,” in reference to people arrested during the Jan. 6 attack.
The insurrection was spurred by a mob of pro-Trump supporters who attempted to stop Congress’ certification of the 2020 presidential election after former President Donald Trump held a rally blocks from the Capitol. Trump in remarks to the crowd promoted the falsehood that the election was stolen from him.
Since then, the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department report filing more than 500 charges against individuals believed to have been involved in the violent attack that left five dead and dozens of law enforcement officials injured.
More than 50 people have been arrested in Florida in connection with the Jan. 6 attack, according to a Spectrum News analysis.
On Saturday, at least a dozen men in Proud Boys colors (yellow and black) attended the rally, including Enrique Tarrio, who has been described as a Miami-based leader of Proud Boys. Tarrio climbed the Capitol steps Saturday to speak to the crowd. He was not present at the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Tarrio called on Republican lawmakers to demand the release of people arrested or convicted in connection with the insurrection.
The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the Proud Boys as an extremist group.
“The ‘Proud Boys’ actions belie their disavowals of bigotry: Rank-and-file Proud Boys and leaders regularly spout white nationalist memes and maintain affiliations with known extremists,” according to SPLC.
A host of the rally is a candidate for the U.S. Senate — Luis Miguel, a Republican from St. Augustine who wants to unseat U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, according to Florida Division of Elections.
Miguel said during the rally, “Gov. Ron DeSantis, we know you are listening…we call on you to demand the release of political prisoners.”
Miguel described the FBI as corrupt and described those who were arrested as part of a patriotic brotherhood.
“They’re not insurrectionists; they’re not traitors; they’re not terrorists. They are heroes,” he told the crowd.
The speakers and protestors at Saturday’s rally do not consider President Joe Biden the legitimate president.
They also consider those arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 attack are political prisoners, not accused criminals.
The law enforcement presence was low-key. A few officers were present but did not make their presence apparent until the rally was breaking up. An officer watching the rally was spotted on a rooftop across the street from the Historic Capitol.