A Facebook post on the page of a Minnesota Republicans group promoted a candlelight vigil for individuals jailed in connection with the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection.
The now-deleted image appeared on the Facebook page of the Aitkin County Republicans, and was shared on Twitter Monday night by journalist Aaron Rupar.
The post advertised a candlelight vigil to be held Thursday — the one-year anniversary of the violent incident — to support "Jan 6 Patriot Prisoners."
The Minnesota DFL communications director replied to Rupar's post with screengrabs from comments the page left on its own post, detailing the time ("5:30 pm until whenever") and location (2nd Street NE in Aitkin).
"Even if they made mistakes, there is NO CONSTITUTIONAL JUSTIFICATION that they are STILL sitting in jail ONE YEAR later with no trial dates in sight!" one of the replies made under the Aitkin County Republicans group name reads.
"That post was unauthorized and not endorsed or even discussed by the Aitkin County Republican organization," John Turonie, co-chair of Aitkin County Republicans, told Bring Me The News in an email.
He said the post was made by an individual who holds no official position with the organization, but who regularly attends their public meetings.
That individual is Jennifer Cummings.
"I'm absolutely astounded at the wide reach of this, it's just crazy," the 52-year-old told Cummings Bring Me The News.
Cummings said she is a member of the Aitkin County Republicans, not an officer, and recently was granted admin privileges on the group's Facebook page. She wanted to inform followers about her planned event, so on Monday evening shared it to the page.
Cummings believed it was a private group visible only to those interested — not a public group.
After she hit publish, a rush of comments from non-members flooded the post and she quickly realized her mistake. Then, feeling sick she said, she deleted the post.
On Tuesday she took full responsibility for the post, saying it had not been discussed at a meeting, was not voted on by Aitkin County Republicans, and had nothing to do with Turonie or other officers.
"It's not the Aitkin County GOP trying to take a stance on this," she told Bring Me The News.
Cummings still plans to hold the event Thursday in Aitkin, saying she was inspired by a Facebook post she had recently seen, as well as a media story about Jan. 6 participants being held in jail as they await trial. She believes those individuals charged with a crime in connection to the actions at the Capitol building should go to trial, where they can be found innocent or guilty based on the evidence.
But she doesn't believe defendants should remain in custody as the criminal justice process plays out.
"We don't punish people before they're convicted of something," she said, adding she wants those defendants to know they have not been forgotten.
A total of 704 people, eight of them from Minnesota, have been charged in connection with Jan. 6, 2021. More than one in five suspects have pleaded guilty.
In September, the Washington Post said 78 defendants — about 13%, at the time the story was published — were still detained as they awaited trial on Jan. 6-related charges. Generally, about 75% of defendants facing federal charges are detained before trial, the paper said.
Some of the jailed Jan. 6 suspects have argued for pretrial release, Newsweek reported late last year, saying they are not a flight risk and not a threat to their communities
Prosecutors, however, have pushed back, saying the riot — which occurred as U.S. lawmakers were attempting to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election — represented an attack on the democratic process.