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Declaration of a Peaceful Revolution

Rep. Scott Perry Claims Jailed Jan. 6 Rioters Being Treated like ‘Terrorists at Gitmo’

Pro-Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol following a rally with President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Pro-Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol following a rally with President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

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Pennsylvania Congressman Scott Perry suggested that the rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6 are being treated like terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay, pushing the false narrative that the right-wing rioters are being punished for their political views.

“If you did something wrong, you deserve to be adjudicated and have your day in court and you deserve due process,” Perry said on Newsmax Thursday. “To leave people in prison indefinitely, that’s reserved for terrorists at Gitmo, not for American citizens protesting their government—and many times peacefully so.”

Perry admitted that he didn’t know the specific circumstances of those in prison—then returned to trumpeting the false, conspiratorial claim that the jailed January 6 rioters have been treated with undue harshness in violation of their constitutional rights. His remarks come just two days before a planned rally by hard-right activists to protest how their comrades have been treated while in jail.

“To know or to hear that they have been left in jail to rot for months and months without charges is completely unacceptable in our society. It needs to end immediately,” he continued.

The claims that Perry pushes here—that the rioters were largely peaceful have been widely debunked by in-depth fact-checks.

But they’ve become a standard talking point on the far right. Perry made his remarks just two days before a planned protest by hard-right activists who have painted the often-violent rioters as political prisoners and pushed the evidence-free claim that they’ve been maltreated in prison because of their political views. 

The “Justice for J6” protest has led the Capitol Police to re-erect the exterior fencing around the U.S. Capitol that they had put up in the wake of the January 6 riots.

Perry’s suggestion that the January 6 rioters have been singled out for harsh treatment has become a widely held view on the hard right promoted by other Republican lawmakers. North Carolina Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn, for instance, recently called the rioters “political prisoners,” while Georgia Rep. Andrew Clyde compared their overrunning the Capitol to a “normal tourist visit.” And President Trump has defended them as well.

“Our hearts and minds are with the people being persecuted so unfairly relating to the January 6th protest concerning the Rigged Presidential Election. In addition to everything else, it has proven conclusively that we are a two-tiered system of justice,” Trump said Thursday.

Many of the rioters facing charges are not in jail at all—nonviolent offenders have mostly been allowed to remain at home as they await trial. Only about 60 of the 600 people facing January 6-related charges are currently behind bars. Those who are in jail are facing felony charges like assault and obstruction of Congress. There’s no evidence that people are being held for months without facing charges. Perry’s office didn’t reply for a request to provide such evidence or clarify his remarks.

A number of those accused of attacking police or having membership in militia and extremist groups like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers have been allowed out on bail by judges as well.

Right before he discussed the January 6 rioters, Perry made clear who he sees as the real threat to America, arguing the modern Democratic Party was made up of “fools and insurrectionist-to-treasonous people on the left.”

“We are in for the fight, we want to save our country,” he said. A nation, it is said, can survive its fools, but it certainly can’t survive treason.”

Perry, a member of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus who currently represents a marginally competitive House district in central Pennsylvania, has a long history of controversial comments. Just weeks ago, he warned against allowing Afghan refugees in without extreme vetting because American girls could be “raped and killed in the streets.” In June, Perry compared Democrats to Nazis and said they “want to destroy the country.”

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