Strange Spectacle Plays Out At Dallas CPAC Convention

One of the oddest tableaus to play out at last weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last weekend in Dallas was the spectacle of Marjorie Taylor Greene comforting a convicted Jan. 6 insurrectionist sobbing in a cage. 

The shoeless man, clad in an orange jumpsuit and a  MAGA cap, spent the weekend in a mock prison cell crying about his perceived persecution as a Jan. 6. insurrectionist. Attendees at the conference were given Bluetooth headphones and heard court testimony from Jan. 6 rioters. 

Some CPAC attendees wept, some threw money into the cage, while others offered words of support. Among those in the audience, according to VICE News, was Zuny Duarte, mother of Enrique Tarrio, the ex-chairman of the Proud Boys facing seditious conspiracy charges for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection. 

While the first day of the conference featured a “crisis actor” in the cage, it was occupied on Friday by the pro-Trump #WalkAway campaign founder, Brandon Straka. A former liberal, Straka encourages other disaffected liberals to leave the Democratic party for the GOP. He was convicted earlier this year for his role in the Jan. 6 riot and 

Ironically, Straka avoided any actual jail time by cooperating with the FBI and has subsequently been labeled by some as a “snitch” and a “traitor.” He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct, was sentenced to 90 days of home detention, a $5,000 fine and three years probation.

The ludicrous scene got even weirder when security guards parted the crowds to let Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene through. The Daily Mail reported a large cheer erupted from the crowd when the representative arrived at the mock jail. She was granted entry into the prop, embraced Straka and fell to her knees in front of him. They then joined hands and prayed together. The crowd around the cage joined in and began reciting the Lord’s Prayer and  the prayer to Saint Michael. 

“She prayed with me for our nation,” Straka told the Daily Mail. “Both sides of the aisle for all people and no, I thought it was a really beautiful, special moment.”

“It’s tragic how many January 6 defendants were treated in jail,” Alex Pfeiffer, a spokesperson for CPAC, said in an emailed statement to Business Insider.

Not everyone saw the performance in a positive light.  Joe Walsh, a former Republican and Illinois representative, told Business Insider the exhibit was “crazy.” He said the performance conveyed that “everybody at CPAC, they don’t believe January 6 was a big deal or a bad thing.”

“My former political party is fully anti-democracy,” Walsh added. 

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Editorial Cartoonist Nick Anderson has joined the Reform Austin newsroom, where he will employ the artistic skill and political insights that earned a Pulitzer Prize to drive coverage of Texas government. As managing editor, Anderson is responsible for guiding Reform Austin’s efforts to give readers the unfiltered facts they need to hold Texas leaders accountable. Anderson’s original cartoons will be a regular feature on RA News. “Reform Austin readers understand the consequences of electing politicians who use ideological agendas to divide us, when they should be doing the hard work necessary to make our state government work for everyone,” Anderson said. “As a veteran journalist, I’m excited about Reform Austin’s potential to re-focus conversations on the issues that matter to common-sense Texans – like protecting our neighborhoods from increasingly common disasters, healthcare, just to name a few.” Anderson worked for the Houston Chronicle, the largest newspaper in Texas, from 2006 until 2017. In addition to the Pulitzer, Anderson earned the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi Award. He’s also a two-time winner of Columbia College’s Fischetti Award, and the National Press Foundation’s Berryman Award. Anderson’s cartoons have been published in Newsweek, the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune and other papers. In 2005, Anderson won the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning while working for the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky. The judges complimented his “unusual graphic style that produced extraordinarily thoughtful and powerful messages.”

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