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Charlotte group among 18 protests across U.S. rallying for those arrested after Capitol riot

Supporters said the people arrested are political prisoners. But a former FBI assistant director said that wasn't the case.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — 18 cities across the country were the sites of protests on Saturday, all with the same demand: the release of people arrested in the wake of the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

While law enforcement was ramped up in Washington - where a few hundred protesters showed up - it was a smaller scene in Charlotte: about 10 people brought their signs and voices, demanding action.

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“There is unequal justice in this country," said one protestor WCNC Charlotte spoke to. "And we need to stand up and say 'enough is enough'. We’re not going to put up with this anymore – this is not fair, it’s a double standard, and it needs to stop.”

Erin LeCroy with Look Ahead America was one of the organizers. She said the people who were present on Jan. 6 were nonviolent, and echoed the idea that the arrests were politically motivated.

“What we’re seeing is innocent people – they have not been proven guilty – and they’re still sitting in jail, often times 23 hours in solitary confinement, and its’ extremely unfortunate what we’re seeing is a politically motivated issue," said LeCroy.

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However, that isn't the view held by Chris Swecker, who served as assistant director of the FBI from 2004 until 2006. Swecker told WCNC Charlotte the people arrested were in the wrong.

“They were arrested for committed crimes – they broke and entered, they committed arson, assaulted police officers, other security people, damaged property," he said. "They were NOT arrested for exercising their 1st Amendment rights, which is guaranteed in the United States.”

Swecker also said in the wake of the rioting, he believes law enforcement agencies are now better prepared for more internal attacks.

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