The Republican Party in one of Georgia’s most populous counties planned to hold a candlelight vigil for “patriots” who’ve been charged or convicted for participating in the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, but canceled it after coming under criticism from both Republicans and Democrats.
The Cobb County GOP, the Republican apparatus in Georgia’s third-largest county, had planned to hold a vigil for “J6 prisoners” on Thursday evening at its headquarters in Marietta.
“The Patriots are awake, willing, and eager to protect their American freedoms and liberties,” said an invitation and itinerary obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
In addition to the vigil, the event was scheduled to feature a livestream of former President Donald Trump’s now-canceled press conference from Mar-a-Lago, as well as remarks by Cobb County GOP chair Salleigh Grubbs and an unnamed speaker from the pro-Trump group Women for America First, according to the itinerary.
But on Wednesday afternoon, the party canceled the vigil “due to the mischaracterization of the event scheduled for January 6th and the ensuing concerns for the safety of those in attendance,” it said in a statement posted to Twitter.
“All those who would have been in attendance are encouraged to keep those families who suffered a loss of loved ones, along with pre-trial prisoners held in DC in inhumane conditions in thoughtful prayer,” the statement said. “It is our fervent hope that all those who committed unlawful acts against our Nation's Capital are brought to swift justice.”
The event had been heavily criticized by Georgia Democrats as well as Grubbs’ predecessor, former Cobb County GOP chair Jason Shepherd. Democratic Rep. Teri Anulewicz, who represents part of Cobb County in the state Legislature, called the event an “homage to treason.”
“I think in the roughly eight months since I’ve been chair that they have systematically ruined all the hard work that we did to rebuild the brand in four years,” Shepherd told the Marietta Daily Journal last week. “From what I’m hearing, and what I’m seeing, and what people are saying to me privately, elected officials are staying away from the Cobb GOP. To be associated with this is toxic.”
Prior to the cancellation, Grubbs had responded to the reaction by saying the point of the vigil was “to acknowledge Americans who lost their lives and to pray for those who have been denied justice,” and that those currently held in prison in D.C. are “held captive in isolation in sub-par conditions” and being denied their rights under the Sixth Amendment.
“To those who have cast quick judgement [sic] concerning this event, under no uncertain terms are we condoning any form of violence nor the glorification of what happened at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021,” Grubbs added.
While Trump isn’t speaking on the anniversary of Jan. 6, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz said in an appearance on former Trump strategist Steve Bannon’s podcast that they would hold an afternoon press conference and then march to the Capitol themselves.
“We’re ashamed of nothing,” Gaetz said. “We’re actually going to go walk the grounds that patriotic Americans walked from the White House to the Capitol who had no idea of breaking the law or doing violence.”
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