Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) repeated his false claims that the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol was not an armed insurrection.

“There weren’t thousands of armed insurrectionists,” he said during an event in Wisconsin last week. “Protesters did teach us how you can use flagpoles, that kind of stuff, as weapons. But to call what happened on January 6 an ‘armed insurrection,’ I just think, is not accurate.”

Johnson added that he asked the FBI how many firearms were confiscated in the Capitol or on Capitol grind and didn’t get an answer. The January 6 attack left 140 officers injured.\

Court records show that numerous Jan. 6 rioters had weapons and brought them into the U.S. Capitol. Groups like The Oath Keeper had stockpiles of weapons in Virginia and had plans to transport them to D.C.

In a statement to CNN, Alexa Henning, a spokesperson representing the senator, said that he was comparing methods used by racial justice activists to protest against the murder of George Floyd in 2020 with the Capitol riot.

“The senator was referring to – and his full quote shows – the actions of the rioters in the summer of 2020,” Henning said. “He acknowledges the left wing rioters know how to use flagpoles and other metals objects and water bottles as weapons. But there is a distinction between that and an armed insurrection. In summer 2020, leftists used bricks, water bottles, flagpoles, fireworks, Molotov cocktails, anything but a gun as a weapon to destroy cities but the media didn’t cover them as ‘violent’ or ‘armed.’ When protesters during January 6 used a flagpole, all of a sudden the types of objects they’d been using all summer were now considered part of an ‘armed’ insurrection. He is in no way condoning this action. He’s commenting on the hypocrisy of the situation.”

In September 2020, a report found that 93% of the protests that year were peaceful and non-destructive. The study was conducted by the U.S. Crisis Project, a joint effort by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) and the Bridging Divides Initiative (BDI) at Princeton University.

Johnson has repeatedly downplayed the gravity of the Capitol riot. He has claimed, for example, that there was no violence on the Senate side of Congress, even though surveillance footage and video posted by witnesses show rioters broke windows on the Senate.

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