One of the booths at CPAC in Dallas, Texas, featured a “silent disco” with a man pretending to be a January 6 prisoner crying in a cell.
Freelance journalist Laura Jedeed shared on Twitter that it was “the most astonishing thing I have ever seen”.
“At this CPAC booth you receive a silent disco headset that plays harrowing testimony from people arrested for participating in” the Capitol riot on January 6, she added. “Instead of dancing, you stand around and watch this guy cry.”
“What I need you to understand is that I stood here for about half an hour yesterday and this guy NEVER broke character. He wept sitting on the bench. He wept sitting on the floor. He tallied days on a chalkboard set up for the purpose,” she wrote in a follow-up tweet.
Twitter users were quick to mock the arrangement.
Tommy Vietor of Crooked Media, a former Obama administration staffer, tweeted: “This is incredible. A weeping insurrectionist pajama boy art installation.”
Bulwark editor Jim Swift wrote that the installation served as a “reminder that the GOP’s craziest elements are usually failed theatre geeks”.
The Atlantic staff writer McKay Coppins added that “right-wing victimhood as performance art is actually the whole point of CPAC, so this makes sense”.
According to WUSA9 reporter Jordan Fischer, the man pretending to be locked up is Brandon Straka, the founder of the “Walk Away” campaign that was started ahead of the 2018 midterms to urge liberals to leave the Democratic Party. He was allegedly involved in the riot, but avoided jail time because of “substantial” cooperation with investigators, according to statements made by his lawyers in sentencing memos.
One person Mr Straka shared information about with the FBI is serving a 60-day jail sentence, with prosecutors saying his information was “valuable”, WUSA9 reported.
“Brandon Straka, who turned state’s witness and did not serve any time, has now spent more time locked up in a fake prison than he ever did for being involved in the J6 insurrection,” Alejandra Caraballo tweeted.
“Boy howdy, let me tell you about immigrants who go through far worse solely for seeking a better life and safety,” she added.
Reason magazine reporter CJ Ciaramella wrote: “I assume a bunch of the people who spam my mentions with ‘maybe don’t do a crime’ are watching this with broken hearts.”
Willamette University US History Professor Seth Cotlar tweeted, “let’s not forget that this is the same CPAC crowd that in previous years has gleefully chanted ‘lock her up’ about Hillary’s emails. But engaging in an insurrectionary attempt to subvert the 2020 election? That’s behavior that will elicit empathic tears at CPAC”.
“I give up. There are no redeeming qualities in these people. We’re in mitigation mode now. We’ll do our best to stop the stupidity from spreading, but it’s with us for a while. Buckle in,” Michigan GOP Watch tweeted.
“If there weren’t video evidence of this I would literally never have believed it could be real- like even today in 2022 when our country has gone completely insane- this is crazy even by those standards. The right is sooo broken…it’s scary,” another Twitter user wrote.