A man in an orange jumpsuit and a red MAGA hat sits in a cage, his head in his hands, and cries.
He looks around before going to a blackboard and writing, “Where’s everyone?”
He sits down and cries again.
The prisoner is Brandon Straka, a pro-Trump campaigner. And the one-man show that highlights his experience after he was arrested in connection with the January 6 riots is the strangest exhibit at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas, Texas.
A crowd watches him as they listen through headphones to the testimonies of other people who were also arrested for their part in the attack.
Then, just when it seemed things couldn’t get any weirder, right-wing arsonist Marjorie Taylor Greene arrived to take things to the next level. She was let into the six-foot cage where she knelt and prayed with the prisoner.
An exhausted Straka, 45, spoke to DailyMail.com at the end of his performance. He explained that on the day of the riots, he wanted to draw attention to the stress and suffering of people being prosecuted for minor crimes.
“I think I have a lot of pent-up pain and fear and anxiety, and it’s actually been kind of cathartic and therapeutic as well,” he said, sitting in the small cell.
Brandon Straka caused a stir at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas, Texas, with an artwork designed to highlight what he believes is unfair treatment of people arrested for petty crimes committed during the Jan. 6 attack.
The crowd roared as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene appeared and entered the cage to join Straka . to add
He said he was surprised when she knelt and prayed with him Friday afternoon
Straka, the founder of the conservative “#WalkAway” campaign, pleaded guilty last September to charges of “disorderly and disruptive behavior at the Capitol or the grounds.”
He avoided jail time and was instead sentenced to 90 days of house arrest and three years’ probation.
He did not enter the Capitol itself, claiming that he was there to film what happened. But he admitted to yelling, “Go, go, go” as the crowd tried to storm the building.
During the performance, he collapsed on the floor. Sometimes he paced around the cell.
“I think everyone agrees that anyone who committed violence, caused vandalism and extreme fear on that day should pay an appropriate price for what they did,” he said.
‘But there are many people who suffer, I think, unjustly. I think it’s disproportionate to what they actually did.
“And more than that, I’d like to say at this point that the hatred on both sides must stop. It’s time to forgive those who have made mistakes on both sides.”
The performance was a hit with those in attendance, who gathered for a better view of Straka
The testimonies of people arrested in connection with the Capitol riots were played through headphones, in “silent disco” style. They described being kept in solitary confinement
A soundtrack to the performance is provided through headphones in the style of a ‘silent disco’.
Several voices describe what they believe was disproportionate treatment by the authorities
“They just put me in a cell,” a voice said. “Total solitary confinement and a cell not much bigger than a walk-in closet.
“And I spent the next nine days in that cell in total solitary confinement.”
Another said: ‘I haven’t seen a clock for four days. I had no idea what day or time it was or what was or wasn’t happening.’
The performance on Friday afternoon attracted a large audience.
And it cheered when Greene entered the cage.
“I think I have a lot of pent-up pain and anxiety and fear, and it’s been kind of cathartic and therapeutic in a way too,” Straka told DailyMail.com
Straka said he was surprised.
“She prayed with me for our nation,” he said. “Both sides of the aisle for all people and no, I thought it was a very beautiful, special moment.”
Critics will say he seeks soft treatment for political allies. Punishments are not meant to be easy.
In response, Straka insisted he was not trying to off-hook anyone for violent crimes committed on January 6 last year.
“I know people who saw open doors and walked through them and their lives have been ruined,” he said.
‘They have been reported by their children. It’s pretty gruesome.
Conservatives hold a four-day conference in Dallas, Texas. Former President Donald Trump will deliver the keynote speech on Saturday night
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“So I’m not suggesting that no one did anything wrong. And I am not suggesting that people should not pay a price for what they have done.
“What I’m saying is that this is a tremendous amount of despair, and pain, and suffering and division that has been caused.”
Among the observers was Judy Nordean. Her son Ethan is a leader of the Proud Boys and has been charged with seditious conspiracy for his alleged role on Jan. 6.
She maintains his innocence, saying that Straka did an important job keeping the issue alive.
“They are being falsely accused,” she said. “They have no criminal history at all.
“We’re going to fight like hell.”