The REAL False Flag Operation, Part 2
NOTE TO THE READER: This is another topical blog post that gotten to be so long in content and scope, that as a courtesy to the reader I have split up into a series of posts. It concerns a topic now of interest to the new conspiracy-crowd that is the Religious Right, who has now as a late-comer embraced this viewpoint after introduction to the conspiracy-minded “don’t believe your eyes or the establishment” perspective from their extremist hard-right Christian and other Christian media outlets, both large and small, “mainstream” and small-time fringe blogs, podcasts, Facebook posts and tweets. Through this they have become versed into the old conspiracy concept that has historical precedents but is now-overused and supersaturated, that of the “false flag operation,” by agents provocateur in disguise, to implicate and discredit rival ideological camps. It reviews the latest popular arguments in conservative and Religious Right professional and social media that leftist radicals actually conducted the Capitol insurrection by those otherwise-plainly identified as right wing extremists in the “patriot movement,” including the cases of violent or provocative incidents in the years leading up to it. It explores the arguments popularly disseminated to date, who are the main figures formulating and dispensing these narratives, what are their histories, track records and possible motives for such, the extent of their accuracy or inaccuracy, and the appearances of a REAL “false flag” narrative being promulgated that is not what is being popularly identified in this public relations “sleight of hand.” It also painstakingly documents who the actual insurrectionists and inciters were in these events, based upon hard evidence of video and photo documentation, self-incriminating posts and writing, announcements of planned operations prior to the event, law enforcement investigations and legal filing and pleas, and statements by top government officials who admitted their intentions to incite, or were eyewitnesses to the culprits and the events. In the introductory Part 1, we began by summarizing the key events and timelines of the pivotal day of the Capitol insurrection, how President Trump set the stage (including literally) to prepare the people for war beforehand (with the help of violent militia groups and others online), bring the people to Washington at the very hour of the election certification, and provoke them into the seditious mob and combination vandal gang and lynch mob, as well as identifying a few initial figures that have come from obscurity to experience a meteoric rise in the national media in capitalizing in those days on the dark and disturbing latent impulses now seething in the American public that they have exploited for immediate profit and future agendas of even higher ambition. In Part 2 here, I include a more in-depth profile of the individuals, leaders and organizations involved in the insurrection itself, derived from their writings and confessions, FBI reports and legal briefs, as well key representatives of some of our time-honored institutions (those revered by conservatives in particular) that shockingly had a pivotal role in the deadly event, and the demographics of the typical 2021 insurrectionist, with these findings having major implications in our society in the days ahead.
So – is it true what most conservative leaders now say, that Trump’s guidance for the rally to “fight like hell” and bring everyone nationwide to march to the Capitol could never have been foreseen as a call to take physical or violent action to invoke his directive, and thus must be the responsibility of those other than those long-time Trump followers and anarchists since documented as having participated, in videos, photos and their own postings online? Well, it is instructive AND EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to consider a press report early in the day of the event itself (Jan. 6), before violent events ensued, and what they foresaw as likely, based upon the various pronouncements up to the time of the rally:
With Congress convening for a joint session today to certify the electoral votes for President-elect Joe Biden, Washington DC is bracing for violence from Proud Boys and other far-right supporters who are feeling legitimized by Donald Trump’s refusal to accept the results of the election. Trump’s Dec. 19 tweet promising a “big protest in DC on January 6th” and calling on supporters to “be there, will be wild” galvanized supporters to mobilize for the day, and for the past 24 hours the president has been using Twitter to talk up his appearance at the rally. “Washington is being inundated with people who don’t want to see an election victory stolen by emboldened Radical Left Democrats,” Trump wrote on Twitter…”Our Country has had enough, they won’t take it anymore! We hear you (and love you) from the Oval Office. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” Roughly a dozen senators, led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), are entertaining the delusions of Trump’s diehard supporters by pledging to protest the certification of Biden’s election, while intrigue has swirled around the question of whether Vice President Mike Pence, as presiding officer, will certify the electoral votes…
Chatter among Trump supporters planning to attend today’s rally on Parler and other social media platforms has bristled with violence and threats to utilize firearms, in defiance of DC’s strict gun laws. Some Republican officials have stoked the violence, encouraging the temptation among Trump’s supporters to abandon democratic processes and resort to an armed uprising to prevent the peaceful succession of power. Responding to a federal judge’s New Year’s Day dismissal of a lawsuit aimed at pressuring Pence to overturn the results of the election, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) said in an interview with the conservative network Newsmax: “If bottom line is the court is saying, ‘We’re not going to touch this, you have no remedy,’ basically in effect the ruling would be that you gotta go to the streets and be as violent as antifa and BLM. The message hasn’t been lost on Trump’s far-right supporters. A New York State Proud Boy posting on Parler under the screenname “NineLine” responded ecstatically on Monday, writing, “@RepLouieGohmert says that #Patriots need to be as violent as BLM/Antifa! That’s our go-ahead!!” On Tuesday, he announced, “Arrived in DC safe and sound!”
High-profile supporters like Lin Wood, an Atlanta personal injury lawyer who has rallied Trump supporters and promoted bizarre claims about foreign manipulation of the election, have become increasingly militant, making wild accusations against any Republicans perceived to be displaying the slightest disloyalty to Trump. Wood’s tweet on New Year’s Day predicting Pence will wind up in “in jail awaiting trial for treason” and “face execution by firing squad” was extreme even for many staunch Trump allies…But predictably, Woods’ fantasy about a violent political purge has shaped a narrative among far-right actors watching to see whether the vice president plays the heroic rescuer or despised traitor for their cause.
During a trans-Atlantic video chat on Sunday bringing together English far-right campaigner Tommy Robinson [a well-known anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant violent hooligan] with American Proud Boys Jeremy Bertino and Bill Whicker III, a man identified as “Ralph (The Patriot) Pina” described Pence as the crucial figure in the American election drama. “It’s going to go down one of two ways,” Pina told Robinson. “Either Pence is going to show himself to be a patriot, and he recognizes the truth of everything going on, right? And he lays it all out in the House and in the Congress on the 6th. However, should Pence prove himself not to be the patriot he needs to be, he’s just now opened the gate for Trump to call up the Insurrection Act and fix it from there. Either way it goes, there’s gonna be civil unrest in this country.” Like Wood and others in the Trump cult, Pina expressed faith in a rapture-like revelation of evil and corruption that will set the stage for a violent settling of accounts. “There’s not going to be a President Joe Biden,” Pina insisted. “It’s just not gonna happen…What I’m hoping for is Trump wins,” Pina continued as the other chat participants let out a peel of laughter, “the leftists lose their minds, and it gave me a reason to finally go out there and test some of the new firepower I’ve acquired in the past couple years.”
Bertino, who was hospitalized due to a stabbing the last time the Proud Boys rallied in DC on Dec. 12, murmured, “In Minecraft,” a common refrain among far-right extremists used to gloss over violent threats with a veneer of plausible deniability. Discussion about guns and armed confrontation surrounding planning on Parler for today’s rally in DC is not rare. Discussion on the conservative social media platform also shows that Proud Boys and their far-right allies have turned decisively against law enforcement, growing out of their frustration that DC police prevented repeated attempts to march into Black Lives Matter Plaza and start fights with antifascists on Dec. 12. “If you’re going to DC expecting it to be peaceful, I wouldn’t bet on it lol,” wrote one Parler user on New Year’s Eve. “I think for anyone who has the balls to do so, you might want to bring some stuff. Things are already fired up now, just wait until more police thugs arrest non-mask wearers over the next few days. Let alone the antifa/BLM retards.” Another user responded, “I’m going to tell people to prevent the cops from arresting anybody on our side. I’m going to be there.” The second user added, “It’s time for some blue blood.” That user, whose account has since been taken down, is among Trump supporters who have discussed storming Congress to prevent members from certifying Biden as the president. “We’re gonna kill Congress,” he wrote. “Sorry to burst your bubble btw not a PB [Proud Boy] but I’m good enough with words I’ll get people to go in there anyways.” In another post, the man who described himself in his Parler profile as a “homeschooled masculine, intellectual militia member” who believes he has a right to own a tank, tagged Bertino in a post in which he advised bringing rifles to shoot at police helicopters and blocking streets with vehicles to create an urban battlefield.
…The discussion about bringing weapons and ammunition into the city has, to some degree, materialized in real life. DC police arrested Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio in the city on Monday, charging him with misdemeanor destruction of property after he admitted to burning a Black Lives Matter banner stolen from a Black church on Dec. 12. During the arrest, police discovered high-capacity firearms magazines in Tarrio’s possession. And on Tuesday afternoon, the Washington Post reported, DC police pulled over a North Carolina bus for a traffic violation, and discovered a person carrying two firearms — a rifle and a semiautomatic handgun — along with a drum magazine.”
On January 19 CNN reported that
Prosecutors on Tuesday filed the first significant conspiracy charge in the US Capitol attack, alleging that three members of the so-called Oath Keepers, an extremist militant group, planned and coordinated ahead of the January 6 assault. In an amended complaint unsealed Tuesday in federal court, an FBI agent divulged striking new details about the group’s efforts. Jessica Watkins, the alleged founder of an Ohio militia, had instructions to make explosives out of bleach printed out at her home, according to the court document. Chilling messages sent between the militants during the siege that are quoted in the complaint appear to indicate they were searching for lawmakers inside the building as they sought to stop Congress from certifying the presidential election. While at the Capitol, one alleged member of the conspiracy, Thomas Edward Caldwell, allegedly received a Facebook message reading “All members are in the tunnels under capital seal them in. Turn on gas.” In subsequent messages, an unidentified person appeared to give Caldwell directions inside the labyrinthian government building: “Tom all legislators are down in the Tunnels 3floors down” one says. “Go through back house chamber doors facing N left down hallway down steps,” says another, according to court documents.
The pair, along with Caldwell, are accused of moving together “in an organized and practiced fashion” as they pushed through a crowd towards a door to the Capitol building, according to a charging document. The three were part of a group of eight to 10 people all wearing paramilitary gear and Oath Keeper paraphernalia, signifying their affiliation with the self-styled militia that’s driven by anti-government conspiracies, according to an FBI affidavit…Prosecutors have called Caldwell an apparent leader of the Oath Keepers…Caldwell’s defense lawyer argued that he should be released because he is at risk of contracting Covid-19 in detention [not worried about his “risk” during the mob insurrection], his charges are not that serious and that he is a retired Navy captain who served the country…Caldwell said in court he still receives retirement payments from the Navy [i.e., gets a government welfare check, from the very government he is trying to nullify and overthrow]. “Seventy percent of Republicans believe that the election was fraudulent,” his temporarily appointed defense lawyer said… According to a recording of walkie-talkie-like communications that the militant group members were allegedly having during the riot, Watkins said that she was part of a team of 30 to 40 people. “We have a good group. We have about 30-40 of us. We are sticking together and sticking to the plan,” Watkins said, according to the affidavit. At another point in the recording, after Watkins reports to the group that unknown others were “throwing grenades” and “shooting people with paint balls,” a man responds to her telling her to be safe and adding, “Get it, Jess. Do your F**king thing. This is what we f**king [unintelligible] up for. Everything we f**king trained for.” In an interview, Crowl’s mother, Teresa Joann Rowe, said her son, who previously served in the US Marine Corps, has expressed increasingly hostile political views in recent years. “It felt like he did a 180-degree turnaround, felt like the world owed him a living and had a big chip on his shoulder,” she told CNN. “I don’t know if it’s because life didn’t go the way he planned.”
Asked why she thinks Crowl may have been joined to this extremist group, she said, “I would like to understand myself. I don’t get it”…She said Crowl served in the Marine Corps for about six years starting in the late 1980’s and in recent years has done “odd jobs, being paid under the table so that he doesn’t have to pay taxes“…She also said she recalled Crowl stating that “they were going to overtake the government if they… tried to take Trump’s presidency from him. So he did make that statement, but that was two or three years ago so I forgot all about it.”
Oren Segal, vice president of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, said he’s concerned some of those arrested have US military backgrounds. “Some right-wing extremist groups, particularly the anti-government Oath Keepers, have a long history of recruiting from current and former members of the military and law enforcement,” Segal told CNN. “Oath Keepers are part of the resurgent militia movement, which believes the federal government has been co-opted by a shadowy conspiracy that is trying to strip American citizens of their rights. Though the Oath Keepers will accept anyone as members, what differentiates them from other anti-government extremist groups is their explicit focus on recruiting current and former military, law enforcement and first responder personnel,” he added.
To provide further open-and-shut case evidence of the central role key portions of the Oath Keepers organization played in the attempted overthrow of our Constitutional government, in mid-April 2020 The Washington Post reported that
A founding member of the Oath Keepers arrested in the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol pleaded guilty Friday and agreed to cooperate against others in the case — the first defendant to publicly flip in the sprawling domestic terrorism investigation that has led to charges against more than 410 people. The plea comes exactly 100 days after Jon Ryan Schaffer and hundreds of other supporters of former president Donald Trump stormed the Capitol, allegedly in an effort to prevent Joe Biden from being confirmed as the next president. Prosecutors hope Schaffer’s plea spurs others to provide additional evidence in hopes of avoiding long prison sentences. The plea marks a new stage in the historic investigation, as prosecutors seek to work up the chain of defendants to gather evidence and better understand the full scope of any planning and organizing of the violence — particularly among groups like the far-right Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys. Dozens of members from both groups appeared to act in concert to storm the building, prosecutors have alleged. Peter Skinner, a former federal prosecutor, called it a “huge” development, saying such cooperation deals are “what the government needs to investigate and possibly prosecute the leaders of the organization.” “Clearly, they’re trying to send a strong signal to other Oath Keepers and leaders that there’s somebody in the organization that is going to be telling them everything they know about the organization,” said Skinner.
Schaffer, 53, a guitarist and lead songwriter for the heavy metal band Iced Earth, was charged on Friday by criminal information, a type of charging document used when a defendant waives the right to an indictment. He was initially charged with six crimes, including engaging in an act of physical violence and targeting police with bear spray. Schaffer pleaded guilty to only two charges, but both are felony offenses carrying serious penalties that federal prosecutors are relying on heavily in the wider probe. One, obstruction of an official proceeding of Congress, is punishable by up to 20 years in prison; the other, trespassing on restricted grounds of the Capitol while armed with a deadly or dangerous weapon, carries up to a 10 year prison term…“You’re pleading guilty Mr. Schaffer because you’re in fact actually guilty?” the judge asked. “Yes,” Schaffer said.
Acting deputy attorney general John P. Carlin praised the FBI and prosecutors for averaging more than four arrests a day since the insurrection, saying they “have worked tirelessly for the last 100 days to bring those who committed criminal acts to justice.” Under terms of the plea deal signed by Schaffer and his attorney, Marc Victor, he faces a recommended prison term of 41 to 51 months…“He is the first person to plead guilty in this historic investigation to take responsibility for his role in the Capitol riot. He contacted authorities as soon as he discovered he was a person of interest, and he self surrendered,” Victor said, adding that travel was important to his client because he is “an internationally known musician and recording artist.” The agreement spells out that Schaffer is cooperating, which means his sentence could be cut further if he proves valuable to the ongoing investigation of any other rioters or conspirators.
In plea papers, Schaffer admitted positioning himself “at the front of a large mob” that broke open doors on the west side of the Capitol about 2:40 p.m., and being one of the first six people to enter. Prosecutors have alleged in separate filings that other Oath Keepers associates conspired to forcibly enter through the west Capitol Rotunda doors at about that time…“Schaffer admits that his belief that the electoral college results were fraudulent is not a legal justification for unlawfully entering the Capitol building and using intimidation to influence, stop, or delay the Congressional proceeding,” prosecutors said in a statement of the offense…He was photographed inside the Capitol wearing a hat that said “Oath Keepers Lifetime Member.”
The two charges Schaffer pleaded guilty to have been brought against roughly one-fourth of individuals charged to date — about 100 of more than 410 defendants — including those accused of the most serious offenses in the riot. Authorities have said the attack on the Capitol led to five deaths and assaults against nearly 140 police… prosecutors say he was an early backer of the group. Plea papers submitted by the government, agreed to under oath by the defendant, state flatly, “Schaffer is a founding lifetime member of the Oath Keepers”…The Oath Keepers are a large but loosely organized network of self-styled militias that recruit military, law enforcement and first-responder personnel with a disinformation-fueled ideology that the federal government is hurtling toward dictatorship and anarchy. At a pro-Trump march in November attended by Oath Keepers, the FBI alleged, Schaffer said: “We’re not going to merge into some globalist, communist system. It will not happen. There will be a lot of bloodshed if it comes down to that, trust me.” The FBI and Justice Department have hit a dozen members or associates of the anti-government group with conspiracy charges for allegedly planning and preparing for violence before Jan. 6. Court papers alleged that members who have been charged communicated with Rhodes and his on-the-ground deputy that day and breached the Capitol in formation after guarding GOP figures such as Trump confidant Roger Stone.
On April 18, 2021, CBS 60 Minutes did an expose on the Oath Keepers and their role in the insurrection, their makeup and their future plans. Here’s some of what they found that they published online from the piece:
The group recruited thousands, opening up chapters across the country. They formed a board of directors and ten orders to live by, elevating themselves to ‘guardians’ of the republic and the Constitution, vowing to protect against mass gun confiscation and a Marxist invasion. In 2014, they took their fight to the Nevada desert. Rhodes sent armed Oath Keepers to defend the rancher Cliven Bundy – who was in a 20-year battle with the federal government about public land use. And in 2015, months after the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Oath Keepers arrived with AR-15 style weapons saying they were there to protect businesses. But in 2016, the Oath Keepers believed they finally had an ally in the White House. When President Trump warned of an invasion of undocumented migrants, the Oath Keepers called on members to patrol the border. And this fall when President Trump warned of election fraud, founder Stewart Rhodes appeared on “Infowars,” conspiracist Alex Jones’ talk show, setting the stage for what was to come on January 6.
Stewart Rhodes on “Infowars”: We have men already stationed outside D.C. as a nuclear option in case they attempt to remove the president illegally. We will step in and stop it. It’s either President Trump is encouraged and bolstered and strengthened to do what he must do, or we wind up in a bloody fight – we all know that. The fight’s coming.
But for some Oath Keepers, the rhetoric was too much. Former board members told us Rhodes adopted a more violent, militia-style ideology and it was tearing apart the group. Chapters in Virginia and North Carolina broke ties with national well before the 6th, citing a departure from the original mission. Others distanced themselves after the insurrection, including the country’s largest chapter in Arizona, where Jim Arroyo is vice president. While Arroyo doesn’t think the election was legitimate, he doesn’t think anyone should have stormed the Capitol.
They quote Arizona Oath Keepers Vice President Arroyo as saying on camera that “I wanna congratulate Stewart Rhodes and his ten militia buddies for winning first place in the ultimate dumbass contest, ’cause that’s what it was. That goes against everything we’ve ever taught, everything we believe in. It was pre-planned. It was pre-staged. Ten guys go and do something stupid and suddenly, we’re the devil.” The report adds that “In September, some Arizona members showed up armed at a Black Lives Matter protest in Prescott. Jim Arroyo told us law enforcement coordinated with him to help keep the peace. The local sheriff’s department told us they didn’t ask for their help.” Arroyo added regarding his fellow Oath Keepers that they are not weekend mercenary “wannabees,” rather asserting that “Our guys are very experienced. We have active-duty law enforcement in our organization that are helping to train us. We can blend in with our law enforcement and in fact, in a lot of cases, our training is much more advanced because of our military backgrounds.”
On the television program they play a video of Arroyo as his chapter meeting stating that “There’s nothing I love more than my AR-15 and my chainsaw and I don’t know which one I like more! (laughter)” That noted that the attendees are mostly retirees, and meet “to talk about how to survive disasters like forest fires, attacks on the power grid, and civil war,” and show Arroyo at the meeting stating that “So that’s why we talk about civil unrest, civil war. It’s not a joke. This can happen and we need to be ready for it.” The CBS producer noted Arroyo asked the attendees, “Do you think we’re in a civil war?”, to which “everybody nodded their heads and said yes,” and they show video of numerous attendees who explain why they think the civil war is underway. As an example, they show attendee “Gary Harworth,” who reportedly states on camera that “This country is divided right down the middle. And you’re on one side or the other. People have to realize that when things go crazy, things get a little chaos-y around you, you have to be able to take care of yourself, defend yourself, protect your family, those you love, that’s part of the Constitution.” When they were asked about the fact that their fellow Oath Keepers were confirmed as being part of the Capitol assault, they state that it “could have been BLM” or a “false flag.” They conclude by adding that
Photos and phone records place Stewart Rhodes on the Capitol steps on January 6, communicating with Oath Keepers before they breached the doors. But no charges have been brought against him. Rhodes declined to speak with 60 Minutes to tell his side of the story. He did appear again last month, on “Infowars,” this time from his car, saying he didn’t order Oath Keepers to enter the Capitol, but defended the members who are now in jail and criticized those who put them there. One Oath Keeper has pled guilty and agreed to cooperate in the ongoing investigation as new evidence suggests members stashed weapons at a nearby hotel as part of a ‘quick-reaction force’ – evidence a federal judge says is among the most troubling he has seen. Sources tell us prosecutors are looking to build a case against Stewart Rhodes and possible separate charges against the national organization.
The Oath Keepers were not alone in terms of an organization planning nationwide for a potential violent confrontation in Washington on January 6 – planning which was shown to have been prominent and “telegraphed” online beforehand – as is shown in another report by CNN a few days later:
Two prominent affiliates of the Proud Boys face new conspiracy charges related to the US Capitol riot, and another was arrested Wednesday, as the Justice Department laid out a planning and funding effort within the far-right extremist group in a major court development. The Justice Department unveiled the new conspiracy charge in a federal grand jury indictment of Nicholas Ochs and Nicholas DeCarlo. The indictment alleges the two conspired to block Congress’ certification of the electoral votes on January 6. Prosecutors say they planned and fundraised for the effort, then came to Washington, DC, and stormed past police and into the Capitol building as part of the violent crowd, according to a copy of the indictment. Wednesday’s indictment came shortly after the Justice Department made clear it had taken more investigative steps against Proud Boys affiliates related to the insurrection. The Proud Boys are a far-right group known for their clashes with Antifa and general support of former President Donald Trump, who even mentioned them in a presidential debate, telling them to “stand back and stand by.”
Also on Wednesday, the so-called Sergeant at arms of the Proud Boys in Seattle, Ethan Nordean, aka “Rufio Panman,” was arrested, then appeared in federal court for his role in the riot. Federal prosecutors wrote they believed Nordean asked on social media for help to buy “protective gear” and “communications equipment,” with the intention of organizing people before the January 6 siege, his charging document said. He is charged with three counts related to entering the Capitol, and the allegations he faces name several other Proud Boys affiliates among the crowd. At least 11 people with ties to the Proud Boys have been charged in connection with the Capitol insurrection, according to a CNN analysis of court documents and Justice Department statements. Prosecutors outlined that Ochs and DeCarlo, as part of the conspiracy, allegedly raised money online so they could fly from their home states of Texas and Hawaii to DC for the January 6 pro-Trump event. They also “publicized” their plans, the indictment said. The pair is alleged to have inscribed the words “murder the media” on a notable entrance to the Capitol, the Memorial Door. In previous court records, investigators showed a photo of Ochs and DeCarlo standing beside the etching with their thumbs up…One charge now accuses them of stealing from Capitol Police a pair of flex handcuffs — the same types of zip-tie-like restraints that the Justice Department has focused on in other cases as rioters potentially intended to take lawmakers hostage.
…To arrest them each, the FBI had described how both were believed to be inside the Capitol building and could be identified in photos and videos taken during the insurrection…During the riot, Ochs — the founder of the Hawaii chapter of the Proud Boys — tweeted a selfie of himself smoking a cigarette in the building…Ochs ran an unsuccessful campaign for the state legislature last year, winning an endorsement from Trump confidant Roger Stone, who recorded a video with him. He claimed in the interview with CNN that he was working as a professional journalist…DeCarlo also claimed he was a journalist…But he is not credentialed as a journalist by Congress, investigators said, and he operates a YouTube channel with Ochs and “purports to be an employee” of a group called “MT Media News,” standing for “murder the media news,” an affidavit supporting his arrest said. Nordean, a 30-year-old Washington state resident, is charged in the DC District Court…Investigators say he was marching at the front of the crowd near the Capitol, next to another prominent Proud Boys affiliate, Joseph Biggs…Investigators also say Nordean interacted with another person previously charged, Robert Gieswein, during their push into the Capitol. Gieswein went into a window in the Capitol that was first broken by another Proud Boys affiliate, Dominic Pezzola, who has also been charged related to the riot. Investigators also described his [Nordean’s] social media activity before January 6, including a video on Parler two days earlier in which Nordean said the Proud Boys should protect the community and respond to voter fraud beliefs with “that original spirit of 1776″…Two other Proud Boys affiliates, Pezzola and William Pepe, both of New York, are accused of working together during the attack of the Capitol, according to their indictment last week. A fixture and organizer in Proud Boys mass gatherings, Biggs, of Florida, is facing charges.
This depraved mob assault, leaving five dead and hundreds of policemen injured, led an alarmed and shocked law enforcement and and governing official community to take subsequent online chatter vowing for further violent upheavals at the time of the January 20 presidential inauguration ceremony understandably very seriously. On January 8 CNN reported that
“Trump or war. Today. That simple.” “If you don’t know how to shoot: You need to learn. NOW.” “we will storm the government buildings, kill cops, kill security guards, kill federal employees and agents, and demand a recount.”
In the weeks, days and hours ahead of Wednesday’s siege on the Capitol by President Donald Trump’s zealous supporters, the warning signs were clear: online posts from hate groups and right-wing provocateurs agitating for civil war, the deaths of top lawmakers and attacks on law enforcement. And now, as the dust settles…experts warn that the calls for violence have only intensified ahead of Inauguration Day…”We are seeing…chatter from these white supremacists, from these far-right extremists — they feel emboldened in this moment,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League…”We fully expect that this violence could actually get worse before it gets better.” Wednesday’s chaos… [led to the situation that] Republican leaders that night — including Vice President Mike Pence and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — condemned the rioters in the strongest terms. But it all appeared to have little effect on the radicalized right. “Trump WILL be sworn in for a second term on January 20th!!,” said a commenter on thedonald.win, a pro-Trump online forum, on Thursday, the day after the siege. “We must not let the communists win. Even if we have to burn DC to the ground. Tomorrow we take back DC and take back our country!!”…John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at the Citizen Lab — a group at the University of Toronto that monitors cybersecurity — said…”While the broader public was aghast at what happened (Wednesday) at the Capitol, in certain corners of the sort of right wing conversation, what happened…is viewed as a success,” he told CNN.
In the days and weeks before the attack on the Capitol, signs that the protest could spiral into violence were in abundance. Advance Democracy, Inc., a nonpartisan governance watchdog, highlighted red flags on social media. In the six days leading up to the event, for instance, there were 1,480 posts from QAnon-related accounts that referenced the event and contained terms of violence. On Parler, the report said, multiple posts referenced war, including statements like “the war begins today.” Ali Alexander, a political activist who has organized pro-Trump rallies, including one of the demonstrations that converged on the Capitol lawn Wednesday, accused the left of “trying to push us to war.” In late December, Alexander told followers on Periscope that he and three GOP congressman — Reps. Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs of Arizona and Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama — were planning something big.
Several organizations that monitor extremism online issued warnings beforehand. On January 4, the ADL published a lengthy blog post detailing threats of violence pertaining to the upcoming rally. “In response to a user who wondered what happens if Congress ignores ‘evidence’ that President Trump won the election, a user wrote, ‘Storm the capitol,'” the ADL’s blog post says. Also on January 4, a risk analysis by the security firm G4S stated that “current rhetoric suggests that there will be attendees who have violent intent, including armed militia groups” between January 6 and Inauguration Day. The analysis cited numerous posts in recent weeks advocating violence on the right-wing site thedonald.win, including one from late December that said, “We will have to achieve an actual tactical victory like storming and occupying Congress, to have the intended effect.” Another said, “Patriots who STILL, AT THIS POINT IN TIME, are too cowardly to condone violence, are part of the problem.”
Steven A. Sund, who is resigning as chief of the US Capitol Police amid criticism over the apparent lack of preparedness to deal with the violent mob, said in a statement that the department had a robust plan to address “anticipated First Amendment activities.” “But make no mistake — these mass riots were not First Amendment activities; they were criminal riotous behavior,” he said Thursday…It isn’t just the fringe elements who have gotten swept up in the current fervor. Mingling with the crowd of militia groups, white nationalists and high-profile conspiracy theorists on the Capitol lawn on Wednesday were other citizens who made the trip to challenge the certification. One was Texas resident and former mayoral candidate Jenny Cudd…After railing against what she described as voter fraud and a stolen election, she called for the death of those who have committed treason. “All we need is one public hanging, and then people will start acting right — kind of like it would be useful if we still had the firing squad for the death penalty,” Cudd said. “We shall see if there will be a public hanging in our future because it is still considered a valid form of death for treason.” Cudd posted a video the night before the protests, where she talked about how the next day was going to be a “ruckus.” “I don’t know what y’all think about a revolution, but I’m all for it,” she said. “Nobody actually wants war, nobody wants bloodshed, but the government works for us and unfortunately it appears that they have forgotten that, quite a lot, so if a revolution is what it takes then so be it.” Right-wing news network OANN posted a photo of Cudd on Twitter Wednesday afternoon showing her inside the Capitol, wearing a Trump flag around her as a cape. And that evening, she posted a video from her hotel, where she drank a beer and choked back tears as she took her followers through what had happened that day. “When Pence betrayed us is when we decided to storm the Capitol,” she said.
The Capitol Police were warned in intelligence briefings three days before the event that a violent confrontation at the Capitol Building was likely, based upon known militant/anarchist Trump supporters they were following, and who had announced their intentions online. On January 15 The Washington Post reported that
Three days before thousands of rioters converged on the U.S. Capitol, an internal Capitol Police intelligence report warned of a violent scenario in which “Congress itself” could be the target of angry supporters of President Trump on Jan. 6…In a 12-page report on Jan. 3, the intelligence unit of the congressional police force described how thousands of enraged protesters, egged on by Trump and flanked by white supremacists and extreme militia groups, were likely to stream into Washington armed for battle. This time, the focus of their ire would be members of Congress, the report said. “Supporters of the current president see January 6, 2021, as the last opportunity to overturn the results of the presidential election,” according to the memo, portions of which were obtained by The Washington Post. “This sense of desperation and disappointment may lead to more of an incentive to become violent. Unlike previous post-election protests, the targets of the pro-Trump supporters are not necessarily the counter-protesters as they were previously, but rather Congress itself is the target on the 6th.”
A day before the attack, an FBI office in Virginia issued an explicit warning that some extremists were preparing to travel to Washington and threatening to commit violence and “war.” And dozens of people on a terrorist watch list were in D.C. the day of the riot, including many suspected white supremacists, as The Post previously reported…the Jan. 3 intelligence report produced by his former agency includes chilling descriptions of the ferocity of the combat that activists appeared to be planning on forums where white supremacists and followers of the alt-right movement gather — presaging the mayhem days later. The report said organizers were urging Trump supporters to come armed with guns and to bring specialized combat gear — including gas masks and military-style bulletproof vests called “plate carriers” — to Washington on Jan. 6. The memo concluded that Jan. 6 was shaping up to potentially be a perfect storm of danger because of the size of the expected crowds, the urgency of the group’s mission, the call for demonstrators to bring lethal weapons, the location of the two largest protests in proximity to the Capitol grounds and the fact that “both have been promoted by President Trump himself.”
“The Stop the Steal protest in particular does not have a permit, but several high profile speakers, including Members of Congress are expected to speak at the event,” the document stated. “This combined with Stop the Steal’s propensity to attract white supremacists, militia members and others who actively promote violence, may lead to a significantly dangerous situation for law enforcement and the general public alike”…In July 2020, [report author] Donohue testified before the House Homeland Security subcommittee on intelligence and counterterrorism about how social media was being used to radicalize and foment violence in right-wing and left-wing extremist groups. He warned about the increasingly incendiary nature of events billed as free-speech protests and extremists’ attempts to harm government officials and police in their calls for insurrection…Meanwhile, an FBI internal report prepared the day before the attack by a field office in Norfolk described an online thread indicating that extremists were planning to travel to D.C. for “war.”
A few days before that, the Washington Post also reported that the FBI also had corroborating information that the Trump rally the following day was likely to be very violent, even though they denied it later:
A day before rioters stormed Congress, an FBI office in Virginia issued an explicit warning that extremists were preparing to travel to Washington to commit violence and “war,” according to an internal document reviewed by The Washington Post that contradicts a senior official’s declaration the bureau had no intelligence indicating anyone at last week’s demonstrations in support of President Trump planned to do harm. A situational information report approved for release the day before the U.S. Capitol riot painted a dire portrait of dangerous plans, including individuals sharing a map of the complex’s tunnels, and possible rally points for would-be conspirators to meet in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and South Carolina and head in groups to Washington. “As of 5 January 2021, FBI Norfolk received information indicating calls for violence in response to ‘unlawful lockdowns’ to begin on 6 January 2021 in Washington, D.C.,” the document says. “An online thread discussed specific calls for violence to include stating ‘Be ready to fight. Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from their BLM and Pantifa slave soldiers being spilled. Get violent. Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die. NOTHING else will achieve this goal”…The head of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, Steven D’Antuono, told reporters on Friday that the agency did not have intelligence suggesting the pro-Trump rally would be anything more than a lawful demonstration…Multiple law enforcement officials have said privately in recent days that the level of violence exhibited at the Capitol has led to difficult discussions within the FBI and other agencies about race, terrorism and whether investigators failed to register the degree of danger because the overwhelming majority of the participants at the rally were White conservatives fiercely loyal to Trump…the information it highlights to law enforcement is nonetheless troubling — including that there was data suggesting people might storm government offices or stage an uprising were Trump to be removed from office, the official said.
I hear many of my “Christian” friends, neighbors and other acquaintances assert what they hear on conservative TV and radio, in that the storming of the Capitol – which involved the violent deaths of a number of people, and the serious injury of hundreds – was in effect a relatively “harmless” exercise in a public airing of grievances by “patriots” and thus excuse it as spurious, because most importantly, was not “armed” regarding its participants and did not involve real “weapons,” as if it were a real insurrection. They believe the testimony of the main identified participants identified in video by authorities as having participated in the vandalizing, threats and violent acts against law enforcement inside the Capitol or in clashes near its broken windows and doors that were breached, as their being merely passive visitors who simply strolled though the wide open doors peacefully, without any confrontation with security or evidence that their entry was unlawful or against legal security protocols – refusing to acknowledge that these apprehended individuals are being directed to take such positions by their attorneys, who otherwise have little to use to excuse their often violent or threatening acts that are caught on video, and even bragged about by the defendants on their social media. In regard to this assertion of their “harmlessness,” often-ignored reports in Christian media of the weapons caches, planning and hidden or even brandished weaponry in the violent rebellion can be found for those who truly care to know the truth. For one example (for brevity sake) challenging the common conservative retort that they “patriots” were generally unarmed, consider the Jan. 9 report from Alabama station WVTM online about one of the common participants and the findings by law enforcement that have been buried by higher profile stories – in a city where both open and concealed carry weapons are widely understood to be illegal:
An Alabama man was arrested during Wednesday’s storming of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., according to Capitol Police. Lonnie Coffman, of Falkville, is charged with possession of an unregistered firearm (destructive device) and carrying a pistol without a license. It is alleged that Coffman’s vehicle contained 11 explosive devices known as Molotov cocktails in mason jars and firearms. It is further alleged he was in possession of two firearms…the [excerpted] text of the complaint filed by Capitol Police:
“…The joint session began at approximately 1:00 p.m. Vice President Michael R. Pence was present and presiding in the Senate chamber. Shortly before the joint session was scheduled to begin, at approximately 12:47 p.m. on January 6, 2021, officers of the United States Capitol Police responded to the report of a possible explosive device in the vicinity of the National Republican Club…Shortly after the initial report of the possible explosive device in the vicinity of the National Republican Club, United States Capitol Police received a report of an additional possible explosive device at the Democratic National Committee Headquarters…Also as part of its response to the two reports of explosive devices, United States Capitol Police officers established a secure perimeter in an effort to protect the public and to facilitate the investigation of the possible explosive devices and any others in the vicinity. In connection with securing the area, canine units of the United States Capitol Police conducted investigative sweeps of the area. These investigative sweeps included canine sniffs and visual inspection of vehicles in the vicinity of the possible explosive device. While conducting these canine sweeps, two United States Capitol Police officers observed the handle of what appeared to be a firearm on the front right passenger seat of a red GMC Sierra 1500 pickup truck…the Bomb Squad responded to the location of the Red GMC Sierra Pickup truck. One black handgun was recovered from the right front passenger seat of the vehicle. After locating the black handgun, officers proceeded to search the rest of the pickup truck, including the bed of the truck, which was secured under a fabric top.”
“During the search of the cab of the truck, officers recovered, among other things, one M4 Carbine assault rifle along with rifle magazines loaded with ammunition. In addition, officers recovered the following items in the bed of the pickup truck in close proximity to one another: (i) eleven mason jars containing an unknown liquid with a golf tee in the top of each jar, (ii) cloth rags, and (iii) lighters. Upon finding these materials, bomb technicians observed that the items appeared to be consistent with components for an explosive or incendiary device known as a “Molotov Cocktail”...A preliminary test by the United States Capitol Police Hazardous Material Team determined that the liquid in the mason jars was an igniting substance and that it had a spectrograph profile consistent with gasoline.
“…the officers asked the male passenger [who came at 6:30 PM to pick up his truck] if he would step out of the vehicle…Upon exiting the vehicle, the officers asked the male passenger if he had any weapons on his person, and he responded that he had a gun in his right front pants pocket…officers conducted a search of the right pocket which revealed a handgun, later fully identified as a 9mm Smith & Wesson handgun… officers conducted a further search of COFFMAN and recovered a 22 caliber derringer style handgun from his front left pocket…neither the firearms recovered from COFFMAN’s person or his pickup truck, nor the destructive devices described above, are registered to him…law enforcement asked COFFMAN a series of questions about possible explosive devices…law enforcement asked COFFMAN about the contents of the mason jars. COFFMAN stated that the mason jars contained “melted Styrofoam and gasoline.” An explosive enforcement officer with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives has advised that melted Styrofoam and gasoline are an explosive mixture that has the effect of napalm insofar as it causes the flammable liquid to better stick to objects that it hits upon detonation.”
People like Alabamian Mr. Coffman are our “God-fearing” neighbors, some of whom pursue such missions under our nose, and some of whom flaunt it out in the open. They do the latter in my neighborhood of “higher end” homes, with camouflage-painted monster truck/”assault vehicles” with threatening slogans and Delta Force-styled death and gun-obsessed mottos emblazoned on them (along with Trump defense slogans), and of course the obligatory display of numerous high-powered firearms and the long, “remote compound” survival beards – right here in the “buckle” of the Bible Belt, with many of these popular vehicles parked every Sunday in front of our local evangelical churches.
It’s ironic to consider further how, unlike quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whom the Religious Right long ago “cancelled” (themselves being the first group to establish the modern “cancel culture,” going back to the Moral Majority days of boycotts and blacklisting in the late 1970s) because he quietly and nonviolently “took a knee” before the flag and the National Anthem in the cause of justice for others, they and their conservative allies later showed their customary superficial patriotism and support for law enforcement and the flag and its honor that they make their brand-name by impaling Capitol police officers with American flags, used as pikes and weapons, as we saw in the horrific videos at the entrances to the Capitol Building.
In February 2021 The New York Times published a brief summary of some of the injuries given to the loyal law enforcement officers defending the seat of government that day, brutalized by the weaponless (?) “patriots” in league with the Religious Right and other white supremacists and their mutual undying devotion to Trump, and their willingness to retain power beyond any legal authority and to the point of violence and murder, or the excusing of such:
One officer lost the tip of his right index finger. Others were smashed in the head with baseball bats, flag poles and pipes. Another lost consciousness after rioters used a metal barrier to push her into stairs as they tried to reach the Capitol steps during the assault on Jan. 6…A little more than a month after the Capitol siege, a fuller picture of the injuries sustained by the police has emerged from court documents, footage revealed at former President Donald J. Trump’s impeachment trial, accounts provided by officers and interviews with law enforcement officials and experts. The Capitol assault resulted in one of the worst days of injuries for law enforcement in the United States since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. At least 138 officers — 73 from the Capitol Police and 65 from the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington — were injured, the departments have said. They ranged from bruises and lacerations to more serious damage such as concussions, rib fractures, burns and even a mild heart attack. One Capitol Police officer, Brian D. Sicknick, was killed, and investigators are increasingly focused on whether chemical irritants were a factor in his death…The Capitol Police said in a statement that Officer Sicknick died from injuries sustained “while physically engaging with protesters.” Two officers involved in the response have died by suicide, the local police have said.
The number of those injured does not account for the dozens, if not hundreds, of officers who law enforcement officials estimate will suffer in years to come with post-traumatic stress disorder and the dozens who most likely contracted the coronavirus from unmasked Trump supporters who overran the Capitol, the experts and officials said. At least 38 Capitol Police officers have tested positive for the coronavirus or were exposed to it…Nearly 200 National Guard personnel who were deployed to protect the Capitol in the weeks after the siege also tested positive, he said. “If you’re a cop and get into a fight, it may last five minutes, but these guys were in battle for four to five hours,” said Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a nonprofit that advises departments across the country…“You would be hard-pressed to find another day in history like this,” he said, “when the police encountered this level of violence in one event.”
The horror of the siege — which officers have described as “medieval” because of brute hand-to-hand combat and the use of blunt objects as weapons — received renewed attention this week at Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial…At the trial on Thursday, Mr. Cicilline listed a litany of injuries that laid out the effects of the siege on officers: concussions, irritated lungs and injuries caused by repeated blows from bats, poles and clubs. “Capitol Police officers also sustained injuries that will be with them for the rest of their lives,” he said. Washington police officers who had served in Iraq said that the Capitol riot “was scarier to them than their time in combat,” Mr. Cicilline said, quoting Chief Robert J. Contee III of the Metropolitan Police. Mr. Cicilline then played clips of rioters shouting to officers in the Capitol: “Fight for Trump! Fight for Trump! Traitor, traitors, traitors!”…a small portion of the injuries are severe and will require months of recovery, said Patrick A. Burke, the executive director of the Washington, D.C., Police Foundation. “A majority are bruises and sprains, but one officer had a mild heart attack after he was hit with a stun gun several times and had to be pulled out of the crowd,” Mr. Burke said. “Others had laser pointers to the eyes, which can cause long-term damage.”
…a review of footage shows that at least thousands swarmed the building. In addition to the blunt objects, some were armed with stun guns, bear spray and plastic handcuffs. At one point, one rioter took a fire extinguisher and slammed it on the ground. A loud explosive boom rang out, and white powder from the extinguisher filled the air….Some without helmets sustained brain injuries, one officer had two cracked ribs, two shattered spinal discs, and another was stabbed with a metal fence stake, said Gus Papathanasiou, the chairman of the Capitol Police Union.
They saw that “actions speak louder than words,” and in the case of the Capitol Building vandal-pillager-vigilantes, their unique trail of wreckage and evidence strewn in their wake further reveals their values and opinions (and those not there that share their views) on a number of subjects, such as their trespassing in private offices in the building and terrorizing young and elderly support staff there, spreading defecation throughout the beautiful and historic building, and such. As one such example, The Hill reported that “House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Thursday that the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol Wednesday destroyed a display outside his office honoring the late congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis” (emphasis added). For those readers not familiar with Mr. Lewis, he was the son of black sharecroppers in Alabama who graduated from the seminary and was ordained a Baptist minister, a friend of his mentor Billy Graham, and best known for having his head beat in repeatedly by law enforcement figures on the streets in Alabama and elsewhere, in numerous civil rights marches where he never laid a finger on those trying to maim him, and continued to sit in at white-only lunch counters and such and other means to provide for rights of his brethren. He participated in the Freedom Rides to promote the enforcement of Supreme Court rulings outlawing segregated interstate transportation, having his face kicked in and thrown into notorious prisons for this “crime,” but he was always the consistent voice of non-violence. He was beaten with bats and wooden crates, and left unconscious at times. On “Bloody Sunday” in 1965, he led the march over Selma’s Edmund Pettis Bridge, and met by local law enforcement; when he led everyone to kneel and pray (before their beating), police used tear gas on these church going marchers, with mounted police beating them with nightsticks, as Lewis received a skull fracture and head scars for which he was known thereafter. In all his years as an activist, minister and later congressman, he always taught Christian forgiveness for their persecutors, and tried to demonstrate it. It is not surprising that these Trump defenders would have found such a man as repulsive, and unworthy of honor. He was indeed a God-fearing, and God-understanding, man, and unlike my Religious Right brethren, he emulated Jesus in that he stood for non-violence and forgiveness even while he received violence from others and on behalf of others, and not dishing it out in sacred fashion like the Trump mob, and those who sympathize with them and defend such.
The New Yorker published an excellent summary of the key players who participated in the Capitol storming event, since they had a reporter and camera man of theirs embedded in several leading edges of the assault, which may be useful for many of my Christian brethren who have been led by conservative talk radio and cable news to be confused as to who the actual participants were in the vulgar carnage, with their testimony backed up by video footage later widely distributed. It is a lengthy and fairly comprehensive work that I recommend everyone read and download at the above link before it disappears, but a few of the passages should be cited. They noted the specific participation of the well-known members of the Proud Boys, writing that “Members from Illinois, Pennsylvania, Oregon, California, and elsewhere were easy to identify. Most were dressed in the organization’s black-and-yellow colors. Some had “rwds”—Right-Wing Death Squad—hats and patches; others wore balaclavas, kilts, hockey masks, or batting helmets. One man was wearing a T-shirt with an image of South American dissidents being thrown out of a helicopter and the words “pinochet did nothing wrong!” Another T-shirt featured a Nazi eagle perched on a fasces, below the acronym “6mwe”—Six Million Wasn’t Enough—a reference to the number of Jews slaughtered in the Holocaust.” The writer had seen Proud Boys start fights with antifascists at a November 14 rally, and Trump subsequently tweet out that Antifa attacked the Trump crowd, but that “the people” fought back, according to Trump.
Consistent with the invaders’ vandalizing “editorial” on the John Lewis Memorial in the Capitol, the writer notes that on the streets of DC the day of the insurrection, “On Constitution Avenue, the Proud Boys encountered an unsuspecting Black man coming up the sidewalk. They began shoving and jeering at him. As the man ran away, several of them chased him, swinging punches at his back.” They add that
Officers had cordoned off Black Lives Matter Plaza, but the group soon reached Farragut Square, where half a dozen counter-protesters—two men and four women—stood outside the Army and Navy Club, dressed in black clothes marked with medic crosses made from red tape. They were smaller and younger than most of the Proud Boys, and visibly unnerved. As Schwetz and others closed in on them, the medics retreated until they were pressed against a waist-high hedge. “Fucking pussies!” Schwetz barked, hitting two of the women. Other Proud Boys took his cue, assailing the activists, who disappeared into the hedge under a barrage of boots and fists. Policemen stopped the beating by deploying pepper spray, but they did not arrest any Proud Boys, who staggered off in search of a new target. They promptly found one: another Black man, passing through on his bicycle. He wore Lycra exercise gear and looked perplexed by what was happening on the streets. He said nothing to anybody, but “Black Lives Matter” was written in small letters on his helmet. The Proud Boys surrounded him. Pointing at some officers watching from a few feet away, a man in a bulletproof vest, carrying a cane, said, “They’re here now, but eventually they won’t be. And we’re gonna take this country back—believe that shit. Fuck Black Lives Matter.” Before walking off, he added, “What y’all need to do is take your sorry asses to the ghetto.”
This was the tenor of the next eight hours, as hundreds of Proud Boys, groypers, militia members, and other Trump supporters openly marauded on the streets around the White House, becoming more inebriated and belligerent as the night wore on, hunting for people to harass and assault. “Fight for Trump!” they chanted. At one point, Proud Boys outside Harry’s Pub ganged up on another Black man, Philip Johnson, who took out a knife in self-defense, wounding four of them. Police intervened and rushed Johnson to the hospital, where he was arrested…By eleven, I was following another group, which happened upon the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church…Outside the entrance, a large Black Lives Matter sign, illuminated by floodlamps, hung below a crucifix. Climbing over a low fence, several Proud Boys and men in red maga hats ripped down the sign and pried off boards from its scaffolding to use as weapons, eliciting wild cheers. “Whose streets?” “Our streets!”
The author also cites the central role of firebrand conspiracy radio host Alex Jones (a favorite of Christians) in the day’s events, and writes that
His [Jones’] usual security detail was supplemented by about a dozen Proud Boys, who formed a protective ring around him. The national chairman of the Proud Boys, Henry (Enrique) Tarrio, walked at his side…Although he served time in federal prison for rebranding and re-labelling stolen medical devices…Invocations of the New World Order often raise the age-old spectre of Jewish cabals, and the Stop the Steal movement has been rife with anti-Semitism. At the protest that I attended on November 7th in Pennsylvania, a speaker elicited applause with the exhortation “Do not become a cog in the zog!” The acronym stands for “Zionist-occupied government.” Among the Trump supporters was an elderly woman who gripped a walker with her left hand and a homemade “Stop the Steal” sign with her right. The first letters of “Stop” and “Steal” were stylized to resemble Nazi S.S. bolts. In videos of the shooting inside the Capitol on January 6th, amid the mob attempting to reach members of Congress, a man—subsequently identified as Robert Keith Packer—can be seen in a sweatshirt emblazoned with the words “Camp Auschwitz”…I fell in with a group of groypers [a name for Proud Boys-type white supremacist ultra-nationalists] chanting “Christian nation!” and “Emperor Trump!” I followed the young men to Freedom Plaza, where one of them read aloud an impassioned screed about “globalist scum” and the need to “strike down this foreign invasion.” When he finished, I noticed that two groypers standing near me were laughing…One of them, his voice high with excitement, marvelled, “He just gave a fascist speech!”
A few days later, Nicholas Fuentes appeared on an “InfoWars” panel with Alex Jones and other right-wing conspiracists. During the discussion, Fuentes warned of the “Great Replacement.” This is the contention that Europe and the United States are under siege from nonwhites and non-Christians, and that these groups are incompatible with Western culture, identity, and prosperity. Many white supremacists maintain that the ultimate outcome of the Great Replacement will be “white genocide.” (In Charlottesville, neo-Nazis chanted, “Jews will not replace us!”; the perpetrators of the New Zealand mosque massacre and the El Paso Walmart massacre both cited the Great Replacement in their manifestos.) “What people have to begin to realize is that if we lose this battle, and if this transition is allowed to take place, that’s it,” Fuentes said. “That’s the end.” “Submitting now will destroy you forever,” Jones agreed.
The writer/witness adds that “Crusader flags and patches were widespread at the Capitol insurrection.” He writes that at a similar rally weeks before in DC, “…people carrying religious signs approached. They were affiliates of Patriot Prayer, a conservative Christian movement, based in Vancouver, Washington, whose rallies have often attracted white supremacists. Kyle Chapman, a prominent Patriot Prayer figure from California (and a felon), once headed the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights, a “tactical defense arm” of the Proud Boys. A few days before the march, Chapman had posted a statement on social media proposing that the Proud Boys change their name to the Proud Goys, purge all “undesirables,” and “boldly address the issues of White Genocide” and “the right for White men and women to have their own countries where White interests are written into law.” The founder of Patriot Prayer, Joey Gibson, has praised Chapman as ‘a true patriot’ and ‘an icon’…In December, Gibson led the group that broke into the Oregon state capitol.” He adds that as the insurrection started to wind down, “Later, I listened to a woman talking on her cell phone. ‘We need to come back with guns,’ she said. ‘One time with guns, and then we’ll never have to do this again’.”
In concluding, he adds the following phenomenon also occurring almost immediately in the aftermath of the event seen in real time on our nation’s televisions:
The morning after the siege, an alternative narrative, pushed by Jones and other conspiracists, went viral on Parler: the assault on the Capitol had actually been instigated by Antifa agitators impersonating Trump supporters. Mo Brooks, an Alabama congressman who led the House effort to contest the certification of the Electoral College votes, tweeted, “Evidence growing that fascist ANTIFA orchestrated Capitol attack with clever mob control tactics.” (Brooks had warmed up the crowd for Trump on January 6th, with a speech whose bellicosity far surpassed the President’s. “Today is the day American patriots start takin’ down names and kickin’ ass!” he’d hollered.) Most of the “evidence” of Antifa involvement seems to be photographs of rioters clad in black. Never mind that, in early January, Tarrio, the Proud Boys chairman, wrote on Parler, “We might dress in all BLACK for the occasion.” Or that his colleague Joe Biggs, addressing antifascist activists, added, “We are going to smell like you, move like you, and look like you.”
Not long after the Brooks tweet, I got a call from a woman I’d met at previous Stop the Steal rallies…She was upset—she did not believe that “Trump people” could have done what the media were alleging. Before I responded, she put me on speakerphone…it was plain that they desperately wanted to know the truth. I did my best to convey it to them as I understood it. Less than an hour after we got off the phone, the woman texted me a screenshot of a CNN broadcast with a news bulletin that read, “antifa has taken responsiblitly [sic] for storming capital hill.” The image, which had been circulating on social media, was crudely Photoshopped (and poorly spelled). “Thought you might want to see this,” she wrote.
These latter comments reflect the assertions I hear from my acquaintances and especially Christian friends, as to their confusion – whether unintended, delusional or disingenuous – as to who were the actual people (and their political persuasions) we were all seeing on our television sets (if they actually watch live political events, short of their pre-chewed analysis received from talk radio and cable news) assault law enforcement, vandalize, break in and desecrate the site of the seat of government, with the intention of killing or otherwise assaulting government representatives, to stop by violence what democratic processes could not secure – that being the overthrow of the otherwise constitutional and centuries-old process of verifying and certifying the will of the people via the ballot box, to pick and install their own governing representatives. In order to address this stupifying conundrum of dealing with the masses of my fellow Americans (most of them practicing evangelicals, and many of them residing in my part of the country) who cannot seem to accept what their own eyes are telling them (not surprising, since I think they have been in denial of reality and daily facts as well as timeless truths in their state of cognitive dissonance, at least for the last five years, and probably back to the “anti-sharia scare” a decade ago and probably all the way back to the Red Scare and Cold War), I hereby painstakingly document some of the different communities of culprits we can knowingly verify as active participants in the day of bloodshed, violence, cruelty and desecration, in addition to what I have already documented in this lengthy piece, which has often been authenticated and proved by video evidence, and most often by their own admission in social media, and their online published plans for their violent acts days or weeks in advance.
First of all, it was confirmed that a number of individuals already on the government’s terror watch list were discovered as ring-leaders in the Capitol assault. It was reported that
Dozens of people on a terrorist watch list were in Washington for pro-Trump events Jan. 6, a day that ended in a chaotic crime rampage when a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, according to people familiar with evidence gathered in the FBI’s investigation. The majority of the watch-listed individuals in Washington that day are suspected white supremacists whose past conduct so alarmed investigators that their names had been previously entered into the national Terrorist Screening Database, or TSDB, a massive set of names flagged as potential security risks, these people said…Other current and former officials said the presence of those individuals is an unsurprising consequence of having thousands of fervent Trump supporters gathered for what was billed as a final chance to voice opposition to Joe Biden’s certification as the next president…Several law enforcement officials said they are shocked by the backgrounds of some individuals under investigation in connection with the Capitol riot, a pool of suspects that includes current and former law enforcement and military personnel as well as senior business executives and middle-aged business owners.
Before the Jan. 6 gathering of pro-Trump protesters, FBI agents visited a number of suspected extremists and advised them against traveling to the nation’s capital. Many complied, but according to people familiar with the sprawling investigation, dozens of others whose names appear in the terrorist watch list apparently attended, based on information reviewed by the FBI…Separately, while the FBI is hunting hundreds of rioting suspects who have dispersed back to their hometowns, federal agents are increasingly focused on alleged leaders, members and supporters of the Proud Boys, a male-chauvinist group with ties to white nationalism, these people said….The group’s chairman, Enrique Tarrio, had planned to attend Trump’s Jan. 6 rally but was arrested when he arrived in D.C. and charged with misdemeanor destruction of property in connection with the burning of a Black Lives Matter banner taken from a Black church during an earlier protest in Washington. He is also accused of felony possession of two extended gun magazines…Privately, some federal law enforcement officials have described the group as roughly equivalent to a nascent street gang that has garnered an unusual degree of national attention, in part because Trump mentioned them specifically during one of his televised debates with Biden during the campaign. Other officials have expressed concern that the group may be growing rapidly into something more dangerous and directed.
A National Public Radio study has been documenting the diversity of participants in the assault:
Federal prosecutors say a former member of the Latin Kings gang joined the mob, as did two Virginia police officers. A man in a “Camp Auschwitz” sweatshirt took part, as did a Messianic Rabbi. Far-right militia members decked out in tactical gear rioted next to a county commissioner, a New York City sanitation worker, and a two-time Olympic gold medalist…At least 18 defendants appear to have expressed support for QAnon, the pro-Trump conspiracy theory. At least 18 of the defendants appear to have links to the Proud Boys, a far-right gang. The group was recently declared a terrorist group in Canada. Their values have been widely described as racist, misogynist, anti-immigrant and hateful against other minority groups. At least 13 of the defendants have alleged ties to the Oath Keepers, which the Anti-Defamation League calls an “anti-government right-wing fringe organization.” The group is known to target and recruit current and former law enforcement officers and military veterans. At least three of the defendants are allegedly affiliated with the Three Percenters, another anti-government extremist organization…NPR found at least 15% of those charged had possible ties to the military or to law enforcement.
Twenty-two are accused of committing conspiracy, one of the most serious charges brought. At least 54 are accused of committing acts of violence, particularly against Capitol Police. At least 26 are suspected of causing property damage, like breaking windows or doors to gain entry to the building. At least 21 are accused of theft, like the man photographed carrying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s lectern or one woman who allegedly took a laptop from Pelosi’s office.
Politico added that “One current Metro D.C. police officer said in a public Facebook post that off-duty police officers and members of the military, who were among the rioters, flashed their badges and I.D. cards as they attempted to overrun the building.” A week after the assault, The Washington Examiner also reported that “The man who stormed the Capitol wearing a “Camp Auschwitz” sweatshirt has been arrested. Robert Keith Packer of Virginia was taken into custody on Wednesday morning, according to CNN. A week earlier, he was identified as being among a group of Trump supporters who breached the Capitol.” They add that “Packer was photographed wearing a ‘Camp Auschwitz’ shirt, which was emblazoned with a skull and the phrase “Work Brings Freedom,” a rough translation of “Arbeit macht frei.” The German phrase was inscribed on the iron arch that stood at the gates of Auschwitz, a concentration camp where more than 1.1 million people were killed during the Holocaust.“ They also note that “Packer was not the only rioter to wear anti-Semitic clothing. Other participants were wearing ‘6MWE’ shirts, which is an acronym on the far-right standing for ‘6 Million Wasn’t Enough,’ a reference to the number of Jewish people who were killed in the Holocaust.”
Speaking of extremists, CNN provided a translation of the various flags of the different extremist groups present at the insurrection, which further proves their active participation. They showed the flag of the “Three Percenters” there as a variation of the original Betsy Ross flag, and note that most of their aggression is against leftists, antifa, Muslims and immigrants. They were also associated the “Release the Kraken” flag (with an octopus wrapped around an anchor), which referred to Trump and Michael Flynn attorney Sidney Powell’s public announcement to “release the Kraken” (the mythic sea monster), i.e. a cache of evidence that showed that the election was stolen and that the voting machines were compromised (although, in recent court testimony Powell herself said that reasonable people would not have believed her claims – a development I will cover in a future blog post). They further explain how the white supremacist community uses the “OK” hand signal as a means to show their allegiance, and is seen with some men who posed for pictures on the site of the Capitol invasion. Those having shown the hand gesture of white power on the grounds in photos also claimed to be members of the Proud Boys. They also show a green flag crossed by black and white stripes that resembles an old German Army flag in layout, with a white circle in the center with a number of capitol “I” and “K” letters symmetrically spaced, and is known as the “Kekistan” flag. It comes from the “4chan” online forum (the original home of Q Anon) and is dedicated to their fictional god Kek, and is displayed at rallies such as at the Capitol. They also note the presence at the rally of the altered Confederate (with the assault rifle and “Come and Take it” phrase on top) and Gadsden (“Don’t Tread On Me”) flags. Meanwhile, the Oathkeepers sported a simple dark blue hat with their name inside a yellow rectangle on front. There was also displayed an “America First” flag, with an “AF” joined, surrounded by a white circle on a blue field. One of the more interesting ones was the “Nationalist Social Club” sticker with a black flag inserted, and another version covering a skull and crossbones of a design looking just like the old Nazi SS symbol on their lapels. Pictures have surfaced of them having been stuck to Capitol Police riot gear. These are neo-Nazi organizations with chapters across the U.S. and the globe. Yet another prominent series of black shirts were seen with an emblem saying “MAGA CIVIL WAR,” with the date “January 6, 2021” already printed underneath it. Of course, they also mentioned the “Camp Auschwitz” shirt worn as well. All of these were displayed in full force at the Stop the Steal Rally and subsequent Capitol insurrection. I would bet that this incident is not the last time we see them widely emblazoned in the public.
Another group of the violent rebels since proven to have participated in the violent assault on Capitol police and vandalizing the seat of government and killing or capturing its elected officials is law enforcement members themselves, in essence waging war on their own fraternity in hand-to-hand combat. A week after the assault it was reported that
As of today, at least 26 sworn members of U.S. law enforcement agencies from at least 11 states have been identified by law enforcement agencies and local reporting as attendees of the Jan. 6 rally in support of President Trump that sparked a riot at the U.S. Capitol. [Update, Jan. 25, 10:00 a.m., Eastern time: One more law enforcement officials has been reported as having attended the rally, bringing the total to 39 individuals from 17 states.] Beyond that tally, several former law enforcement agents attended the rally, and still more current law enforcement officials are under investigation for making statements in support of the rally…The Bexar County sheriff’s office in Texas is investigating Lieutenant Roxanne Mathai’s attendance. She posted a photo of rioters on the Capitol’s balcony after they’d made it past the police, writing as the caption, “and we are going in… in the crowd at the stairs… not inside the capitol like the others. Not catching a case lol.” Mathai typically has 70 to 80 employees under her command. The Zelienople Borough Police Department (near Pittsburgh) is investigating Officer Thomas Goldie’s attendance. One photo shows him wearing a hat that appeared to say, “Trump MAGA 2020 f— your feelings.” Sheriff Chris West of Canadian County, Oklahoma, attended the Trump rally. West denied breaking any laws, but two posts from a deleted Facebook account that appeared to belong to West read, “I’m okay with using whatever means necessary to preserve America and save FREEDOM & LIBERTY… I want several in Congress… in prison, or worse.”
The New York Times reported that a man named Jeff told a reporter that he was an off-duty police officer in York County, Pennsylvania. “There’s a lot of people here willing to take orders,” he said. “If the orders are given, the people will rise up”…The Seattle Police Department has placed two officers who attended the rally on administrative leave…Sergeant T.J. Robertson and Officer Jacob Fracker of Rocky Mount, Virginia, have been placed on administrative leave after photos emerged of them inside the Capitol…In a Facebook post…Robertson wrote: “CNN and the Left are just mad because we actually attacked the government who is the problem and not some random small business…The right IN ONE DAY took the f——— U.S. Capitol. Keep poking us.” Philadelphia police detective Jennifer Gugger has been reassigned pending an investigation into her attendance. Until last week, she served in the department’s Recruit Background Investigations Unit, and the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that “until recently, [her] Facebook profile photo was a reference to the QAnon conspiracy movement.”
According to Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio, two Capitol police officers were suspended and at least 10 others are being investigated regarding their behavior during the Trump riot. One of the two suspended officers wore a MAGA hat and “started directing people around the building”; the other posed for a selfie with a member of the mob. A House aide told CNN that “as many as 17 officers” with the Capitol police department are under investigation…Jurell Snyder, who was a police officer in Oakland, California, gave an interview to CBS affiliate KPIX explaining his participation and his support of the rioters. “What do you think is worse,” he asked KPIX’s Joe Vazquez, “storming the Capitol with a flag or committing treason against your country?”…Several current Oakland police officers expressed support for Snyder’s radical views on Facebook, and the department is investigating its members’ potential support for radical far-right movements….Notably, John Catanzara, president of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, made several comments to NPR affiliate WBEZ echoing Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud. “They’re individuals,” he said. “They get to do what they want. Again, they were voicing frustration. They’re entitled to voice their frustration.”
One Secret Service officer is under investigation for making a Facebook post in support of the rally. “Good morning patriots! Yesterday started out beautiful and as usual Antifa soured the mood and attacked police and an Air Force veteran was murdered,” the post read. “It’s OFFENSE time finally!!” There is no evidence that anti-fascist activists were involved in the riot. In Kansas, a lieutenant with the Sedgwick County sheriff’s office voiced his support on Facebook. “If you are a police officer in Washington, D.C., or a federal officer working in the Capitol, remember that the people in these rallies are on your side,” Jason Gill wrote. “Remember your oath before your orders.” Sheriff Dallas Baldwin of Franklin County, Ohio, fired a civilian public information officer for writing a Facebook post that criticized Capitol police for failing to stop the Trump riot from breaching the building.
NBC News corroborated the report about Rep. Tim Ryan and the internal investigation of collusion with the rioters by multiple members of the Capitol Hill Police themselves. Politico added that “A video, with unclear context, circulated on social media of Capitol Police even opening and removing barricades to allow the rioters close to the Capitol…Other videos showed officers posing for selfies with rioters inside occupied Capitol office buildings…An officer even held a woman’s hand as she was escorted out of the building and down the steps. By late afternoon, police had made fewer arrests (13) in the storming of the U.S. Capitol than are typically made at the New York Giants stadium during a home game (21).”
One other group of people that can be confirmed as participating in the rally and riot are active duty, inactive and retired members of the military. A few days after the insurrection, The Military Times reported that
The Justice Department is investigating 25 participants in the protest-turned-insurrection that ravaged the Capitol building on Wednesday, but it’s not clear who among them is either a currently serving member of the military, or perhaps a retiree subject to military criminal investigation. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, who has been leading the Pentagon’s efforts to explain its role in the response to the riot, shared the 25 figure during a call with lawmakers Sunday. Some of those may be active or retired service members…“Any current or former military members who may have participated have disgraced themselves and committed serious crimes against the people of the United States,” Reps. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., and Sara Jacobs, D-Calif., wrote in a letter to Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller on Sunday. “Any such individuals should have the book thrown at them for violating their oaths and duty to the nation,” they added. The exact number of service members and veterans among the rioters is unknown…Five people died in the violence, including…Ashli Babbitt, a Air Force veteran-turned-conspiracy theorist who was shot by security while trying to force her way into the House chamber…Capt. Emily Rainey, 30, a psychological operations officer, is under investigation by 1st Special Forces Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, spokesman Maj. Dan Lessard told Military Times on Sunday…The Army is investigating Rainey, a psychological operations officer, who led a group of people from North Carolina to the rally in Washington…Capt. Emily Rainey was still on active duty during the Jan. 6 protest in D.C., but she had already resigned her commission, a defense official said…On Sunday, authorities arrested retired Air Force Lt. Col. Larry Rendall Brock Jr. on trespassing and disorderly conduct charges for his involvement in breaching the Capitol. Photographs caught Brock with other rioters on the Senate floor during the attack, wearing military body armor with unit patches and carrying zip-tie handcuffs.
By January 14, The Air Force Times was reporting that retired Air Force officer Brock had been making bellicose and threatening statements online that concerned even his employer, as presented by the Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Weimer presented at Brock’s subsequent arraignment:
Weimer also read in court social media posts from Brock, including one posted on the day of the Capitol riot that said: “Patriots on the Capitol. Patriots storming. Men with guns need to shoot their way in.” Brock was arrested Sunday in Texas after being photographed on the Senate floor during the deadly riot wearing a helmet and heavy vest, and carrying plastic zip-tie handcuffs…“It’s all talk. It’s all speculation and conjecture,” said [defense attorney] Antonio, who noted Brock’s long service in the military, including being reactivated after Sept. 11 and his four tours in Afghanistan…Weimer read a termination letter from Brock’s former employer that said he had talked in the workplace about killing people of a “particular religion and or race.” Weimer also read social media posts in which Brock referred to a coming civil war and the election being stolen from President Donald Trump. Weimer said Brock’s posts also referenced the far-right and anti-government Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters, a loose anti-government network that’s part of the militia movement. The Oath Keepers claim to count thousands of current and former law enforcement officials and military veterans as members.
Just over a week later, National Public Radio (NPR) was reporting that nearly twenty percent of the defendants of the insurrection charged to date had served in the military. They write that
…many of those who stormed the Capitol were military veterans themselves, who had once sworn to protect the Constitution. In fact, an NPR analysis has found that nearly 1 in 5 people charged over their alleged involvement in the attack on the U.S. Capitol appear to have a military history. NPR compiled a list of individuals facing federal or District of Columbia charges in connection with the events of Jan. 6. Of more than 140 charged so far, a review of military records, social media accounts, court documents and news reports indicate at least 27 of those charged, or nearly 20%, have served or are currently serving in the U.S. military. To put that number in perspective, only about 7% of all American adults are military veterans, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Several veterans are charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. One of them is Larry Rendall Brock Jr. The Air Force veteran was photographed in a military-style helmet and tactical vest carrying flex cuffs inside the Capitol. He posted on Facebook that he was preparing for a “Second Civil War,” according to documents filed in federal court. In the weeks after Biden’s victory, Brock posted that “we are now under occupation by a hostile governing force.” “I see no distinction between a group of Americans seizing power and governing with complete disregard to the Constitution and an invading force of Chinese communists accomplishing the same objective,” Brock wrote…He ended his post with a reference to the oath taken by members of the military: “Against all enemies foreign and domestic.”
Some veterans who allegedly stormed the Capitol are still serving in some capacity. Jacob Fracker, 29, was an infantry rifleman in the Marine Corps and deployed to Afghanistan twice, according to the Pentagon. He now serves in the Virginia National Guard…He is also a police officer in Rocky Mount, Va. With him at the Capitol on Jan. 6 was his colleague from the Rocky Mount Police Department, Thomas Robertson, 47, who is an Army veteran also facing charges. Federal prosecutors have also alleged that multiple members of the right-wing extremist group the Oath Keepers took part in the “incursion” at the Capitol. The group has been known to target and recruit active-duty members of the military and veterans, in part for their specialized skills. Among those charged in relation to the storming of the Capitol are Thomas Edward Caldwell, a Navy veteran and alleged leader among the Oath Keepers, and Donovan Ray Crowl, a Marine Corps veteran. They have been charged with conspiracy to obstruct the Electoral College vote, among other alleged crimes.
Roughly one-third of active duty troops said they had “personally witnessed examples of white nationalism or ideological-driven racism within the ranks in recent months,” according to a 2019 survey conducted by the Military Times and Syracuse University Institute for Veterans and Military Families. Troops said they had seen “swastikas being drawn on service members’ cars, tattoos affiliated with white supremacist groups, stickers supporting the Ku Klux Klan and Nazi-style salutes between individuals.” At least one individual charged in connection with the assault on the Capitol allegedly embraced that extremist ideology. Timothy Louis Hale-Cusanelli, 30, is a Navy contractor who has worked at a naval weapons station with a secret security clearance, according to court documents….After the Jan. 6 insurrection, a senior defense official told NPR there were 68 notifications of investigations by the FBI last year of former and current military members pertaining to domestic extremism…As Heidi Beirich, co-founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, testified to Congress, veterans and military personnel “have training that makes terrorist attacks more achievable and more deadly.” In 2019, federal prosecutors said that Coast Guard Lt. Christopher Hasson had planned a series of violent attacks against liberal politicians, and was an avowed white nationalist for decades. Hasson ultimately pleaded guilty to drug and weapons charges. Timothy McVeigh, who carried out the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people, was an Army veteran who served in the Persian Gulf War. He had taken inspiration from the white supremacist novel “The Turner Diaries,” which continues to hold sway among far-right extremists.
So why would a high percentage of Constitution-defending military members make up a disproportionate percentage of the lawless insurrectionists that built gallows, donned military gear, pummeled law enforcement and sought to zip-tie and/or kill elected officials? First of all, it should be said that a large portion of military members I have encountered (particularly those with some education and higher in the officer ranks, but not exclusive to them) cherish law and order, democratic processes, and even peace and diplomatic efforts to live in tranquility with different cultures and empathize with their plights and perspectives, and even tolerate and defend the rights of those who burn flags and protest wars in which they have served in, or those of other political views. However, I think even they would agree that the military, law enforcement and similar institutions that offer a uniform and firepower can attract those recruits drawn to the coercive force of weaponry, and the institutional power and logistics to enforce their power trip. Many of the simpler recruits (including some who rise in the officer ranks) gravitate to simple “black and white” designations of “bad guys” and “good guys,” and a simplified mission to right wrongs and establish overwhelming authority for the ideological power brokers of their choice. They see physical force and firepower as ALWAYS the right solution. The Cold War provided them one of the best justifications for the policy of “the ends justifies the means” and sometimes brutality, when convinced (often for convenience, or in spite of contrary evidence) of a more brutal enemy.
Before this time, mere nationalism (or the precursor conservative imperialism, monarchism and royalism before it) and the sacredization of the nation-state and its symbols justified scorched-earth world wars, the ethnic, national and religious wars that continued unabated for over a millennium in Europe, and innumerable crack-downs by secret police and the state in civil wars and insurrections. Many of these brutal conflicts were sold to them in religious imagery, with the assurance that “God is on our side.” As Christian ethics professor David Gushee pointed out on my old Future Quake radio show, America has been on constant “red alert” since at least World War II, with a perpetual sense of the “barbarian at the gate” – be it a Communist, Muslim terrorist, or a Democrat or socialist – that requires continual measures of violent martial force to remedy, and thus are ripe to be “sold” such threats by self-serving demagogues with their own agendas since that time. It is in this milieu that these “warriors” find themselves, in a complex, confusing multi-dimensional world, and they understandably fall prey to simple slogans, missions and calls to action, and, having addressed prior social problems with a gun barrel and accustomed to having superior violent weaponry compared to their enemy du jour, they naturally gravitate to seeing a “nail” everywhere, when they are a “hammer.” Our conservative churches have helped rile such folk up and sacredize such acts, with the flags and other regalia on the altar, fiery calls from the pulpits (including invited hawkish military speakers), and other deification of the “warrior” and glorification of the confrontational “crusade.”
Any thoughtful person amongst us should concede that returning veterans from our wars have typically served valiantly, in self-sacrificial manner and in loyalty to their comrades as well as the homeland, and sacrificed much back home, as well as their families. A minority of them have seen sufficient front-line combat to have mental scars as well as physical, and are deserving of all financial and medical support commensurate with the degree of their sacrifice and suffering, and our undying gratitude and assistance. Having said that, in a world rife with widespread mental illness (much of it undiagnosed) since the dawn of man, but apparently growing in intensity in recent years, further intensified and inflicted by combat or being exposed by it, there has been a perpetual concern of the mental suitability of some portion of returning combat veterans who have been desensitized to violence, or adopted a nihilistic view of life, understandably derived from the insane, senseless horrors of war. Some even desire to remain within a combat environment which has transformed them or in which they have made a mental “home” (no longer able to function within the decorum of “civil society,” seeing it as a naïve mirage compared to their experience of the hostile “real world”), such as in mercenary security forces, special forces or the like, in a world of constant danger to simple survival and a military comradery to which they have become accustomed. Yet others are merely drawn to the “rush” of wielding firepower and authority which gives them their identity, or the sanctimonious certainty and superiority of being a “crusader” in an existential ideological battle perceived to be won with force.
The dangers of returning warriors creating upheaval in the very societies they fought to preserve at least goes back to the returning armies of Rome, who knew of no “victory” in any struggle except by force – the technique of which they had become very accomplished and familiar. One fascinating modern scenario of which I just become aware occurred in 1946 in my adopted home state of Tennessee, in McMinn county not far from Chattanooga. In what became known as the “Battle of Athens” (of which you can read about it here), returning World War II veterans to the region were appalled to find rampant corruption by criminal political machines, in cahoots with local enforcement. Rightfully indignant at this state of despair and local oppression with no perceived means of correction – personified in what they viewed as “stolen elections” and ballot stuffing by corrupt local officials and poll workers, I might add – they resorted to a corrective means they knew best; not legal action, not federal intervention, but hands-on violence by the returning World War II veterans to “make it right,” and to certify a slate of military-approved elected officials. This remarkable incident culminated in the beating of law enforcement officers and election certifiers, the veterans arming themselves with rifles and Thompson sub-machine guns pilfered from the armory, corrupt political figures, sheriffs and deputies being chased into the city jail, surrounded by veterans who pinned them down in gunfire, led by a charismatic veteran Bill White who organized the veterans into units and giving them tactical operational orders, to the point of locating dynamite and blowing up police cars in front of the jail. They knew that had to strike fast to secure the ballots and force their certification, before federal forces and guard units arrived to restore order. The law enforcement officers and county election officials tried to certify the election in the jail while returning fire at the veterans (totaling from 600 to two thousand in number), who responded with their high firepower and military operational tactics from the bank across the street. After hours of gunfire and a number of the 200 sheriffs and law enforcement officers shot in the streets, along with the dynamiting of the front of the jail and police cars, the deputies surrendered with the ballot boxes.
In the subsequent hours, enraged veterans continued to blow up visiting police cars for hours across town. Methodist minister Bernie Hampton and others of the “Business Men’s Evangelical Committee” were chosen to maintain law and order, and the GI’s announced they would maintain control of the county until their slate of candidates were placed in office. Bill White, the ringleader of the violent veteran’s gang, was subsequently made a deputy, to keep in line the rowdy veterans who had been riled up in violence (shooting up residents’ houses and beating people up afterwards) like they had grown accustomed to overseas, and now were becoming a nuisance to the town they “delivered,” with White claiming he had to fight them in hand to hand battles in local bars to keep them from killing him. Athens’ mayor and other aldermen were forced to resign when veterans fired into their home windows, including when the mayor was made subject to gunfire from the local American Legion and VFW posts. Leaders of the veterans’ movement admitted later that a more powerful political machine replaced the one they had disposed of with violence, and veteran-related violence continued on for some time. Other national newspaper editors and even national leaders like Eleanor Roosevelt warned of impending violence from returning veterans from World War II, with her surprisingly-popular recommendation that GIs should be checked for violent tendencies before being demobilized. In an interview Bill White gave to the University of Tennessee history department, he stated that “I didn’t think much of her when she first said that, old Lady Roosevelt, she said people like us, me, should be put into a camp and be re-evaluated before they turn them out on the public. I was mad at her because she said that, but as the time went on after I was out, I seen she was right. That we would kill. And we didn’t take no crap from nobody. And I knew that she was right.” We have just witnessed a large number of veterans alongside similar “men and women of action” stage a far more dramatic national insurrection within the very halls of the U.S. Capitol, far beyond the scale a Bill White would have ever dreamed. Is this just the beginning of such, and just the “firing on Fort Sumter” of a larger-scale civil war to come, with some of our disgruntled and unsettled veterans organizing and leading the resistance? Will peace-loving veterans be willing to square off against their fellow seditious veterans, if need be?
To be fair to these veteran/soldiers of fortune we have identified as being part of the insurrection, another community of individuals who waged lawless acts to stop the constitutional processes of duly-elected officials and overthrow our election procedures were actually national elected officials themselves. Although ten days after the crisis, data was still being gathered as to the individuals who were confirmed as having participated in the insurrection, and their being tracked and arrested was still in its early stages, Mother Jones and other media outlets were already reporting that
Among the pro-Trump crowd on January 6, when a mob stormed the Capitol and caused five deaths, were more than a dozen state lawmakers, many of whom now face calls to resign. The “Stop the Steal” protests were endorsed by Republican organizers across the country, and the fundraising arm of the Republican Attorneys General Association even sent out robocalls urging supporters to march to the Capitol and “call on Congress to stop the steal”…Here is a list of current lawmakers who were spotted outside the Capitol or at Trump’s rally on the day of the riots:
Alaska state Rep. David Eastman attended Trump’s rally outside the White House and later shared several posts on social media suggesting that Antifa was behind the Capitol riots…Arizona state Rep. Mark Finchem was at Trump’s rally and made his way to the Capitol…in his newsletter, Finchem falsely claimed that protesters did not attack the police and cited a baseless conspiracy theory that “a handful of individuals, who have been identified as ANTIFA infiltrators,” caused property damage…Colorado state Rep. Ron Hanks marched to the Capitol following Trump’s rally…Following the riots, Hanks was “absent for the majority” of the Colorado General Assembly’s legislative session that started on January 13, the Denver Post reported. His Facebook page has also been removed…Illinois state Rep. Chris Miller, who is married to US Rep. Mary Miller (R-Ill.), was filmed during the Trump rally criticizing “dangerous Democrat terrorists.” He had previously rallied outside the Illinois State Capitol in May during a rally where he called Gov. JB Pritzker a “domestic enemy”…Missouri state Rep. Justin Hill, a fourth-term lawmaker, attended Trump’s rally and…missed his own swearing-in to be at Trump’s rally…Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano spent more than $3,300 on charter buses to the Capitol ahead of the pro-Trump protests there…Rhode Island state Rep. Justin Price said in a series of now-deleted tweets that he “marched to the Capitol” with “peaceful patriots”…Price, who also baselessly claimed in an interview with the Public Radio that the riots were instigated by Antifa, was urged to resign in an open letter signed by roughly three dozen state and local lawmakers...Price was also criticized for refusing to wear a mask during his swearing-in ceremony in Providence.
Tennessee state Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, hours after violence broke out at the Capitol, posted a photo on Twitter with the caption, “Epic and historic day gathering with fellow Patriots from all over the nation.” Weaver…traveled to Washington, DC, to attend Trump’s rally…Virginia state Sen. Amanda Chase… attended Trump’s rally and said in a video posted to her Facebook page, “When you back good people—law-abiding citizens—into the corner, they will push back.” Chase, who said she left Trump’s speech early on the advice of her security team, blamed the riots on “antifa or BLM agents of destruction”…Chase’s official Facebook page was eventually suspended… Virginia Delegate Dave LaRock acknowledged being part of the pro-Trump crowd in DC and…also shared the conspiracy theory that “paid provocateurs” were sent to infiltrate “this patriotic group for the purpose of inciting violence.” As calls grew from local leaders for him to resign, LaRock released an additional statement saying he has “no intention of caving to ridiculous politically motivated demands”…West Virginia Delegate Derrick Evans filmed himself breaking into the Capitol and could be heard yelling, “We’re taking this country back whether you like it or not. Today’s a test run. We’re taking this country back.” Two days later, he was arrested and charged with unlawfully entering a restricted area, making him the first sitting lawmaker to be arrested in connection with the insurrection at the Capitol. After initially refusing to resign from his elected position, Evans ultimately stepped down…West Virginia state Sen. Mike Azinger was one of the Trump supporters who marched to the Capitol…As for the storming of the Capitol, he said, “The people that are responsible for that were Antifa.” In an interview with West Virginia Metro News, he added that the pro-Trump crowds were “inspiring and patriotic” and said he hopes Trump “calls us back”…Amid calls for him to step down, Azinger said, “I’ll resign when cows fly.”
Consistent with this, other television stations were carrying Associated Press reports that
State Del. Derrick Evans was among lawmakers from at least seven states who traveled to Washington, D.C., for demonstrations rooted in the baseless conspiracy theory that Democrat Joe Biden stole the presidential election. Wearing a helmet, Evans ultimately joined a screaming mob as it pushed its way into the Capitol building, and livestreamed himself joyfully strolling inside…Tennessee state Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver said Wednesday night that it had been an “epic and historic day.” The Republican lawmaker told The Tennessean she was “in the thick of it”…In his now-deleted video, widely shared online, Evans is clamoring inside a jampacked Capitol building doorway, trying with others to push his way inside. He hollers along with other Trump loyalists and thanks a law enforcement officer for letting them in.
The Arizona Republic also added that politicians were even behind planning these events. They write in an editorial that
The right-wing political activist Ali Alexander says that Arizona Reps. Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs worked with him to plan pro-Trump rallies, including the one that ended with an attack on the Capitol. At the time the mob was making its move on Wednesday, Alexander, a national “Stop the Steal” organizer, posted a video of himself saying, “I don’t disavow this. I do not denounce this.” A CNN investigative team that includes former Arizona Republic reporter Bob Ortega pointed out that in late December Alexander told followers on Periscope that he, Biggs, Gosar and Mo Brooks of Alabama, three Republican members of Congress, were planning something big. The CNN article noted that while Alexander did not call for violence, he said, “It was to build momentum and pressure and then on the day change hearts and minds of Congress peoples who weren’t yet decided or who saw everyone outside and said, ‘I can’t be on the other side of that mob.’ ” Investigative reporter Jason Paladino noted the same thing about Alexander and the congressmen on Twitter, writing: Organizer @ali claims he organized the insurrection “with congressman @RepGosar @RepMoBrooks and @RepAndyBiggsAZ. We four schemed up putting maximum pressure on congress while they were voting …”
The new Trump-affiliated Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville has kept an arms-length distance from Trump’s actions when it proved uncomfortable, but local Alabama reporters have been able to show that Tuberville had a role in the lead-up to the day’s rally and insurrection (waged against the building while he was inside), in contravention of some of his claims, as they write that:
Alabama Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville through a spokeswoman Tuesday denied meeting with the then-director of the Republican Attorneys General Association and others inside Trump’s private residence at the Trump International Hotel on Jan. 5 — on the eve of the deadly U.S. Capitol attack. But a photo posted to social media appears to show Tuberville in the hotel’s lobby that day, and a company CEO in a separate post describes meeting with Tuberville and others at the hotel that day and discussing “illegal votes.” Charles W. Herbster, who was then the national chairman of the Agriculture and Rural Advisory Committee in Trump’s administration, in a Facebook post at 8:33 p.m. on Jan. 5 said that he was standing “in the private residence of the President at Trump International with the following patriots who are joining me in a battle for justice and truth.” Among the attendees, according to Herbster’s post, were Tuberville, former RAGA director Adam Piper, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, adviser Peter Navarro, Trump’s 2016 campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and 2016 deputy campaign manager David Bossie.
A photo posted to an Instagram user’s account appears to show Tuberville standing in the lobby of the Trump International Hotel on Jan. 5. The user captioned the photo “Newly elected Senator Tommy Tuberville.” In two other separate photos, the person posted images of Flynn and Donald Trump Jr. inside the hotel on Jan. 5. Daniel Beck, CEO of an Idaho technology company, in a Facebook post at 10:27 p.m. on Jan. 5 wrote that he’d spent the evening with Tuberville, Trump Jr. and girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle, Michael J. Lindell, Navarro and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani. He wrote: “The Trump hotel is Amazing!! Fifteen of us spent the evening with Donald Trump Jr., Kimberly Guilfoyle, Tommy Tuberville, Michael J. Lindell, Peter Navarro, and Rudy Giuliani. We talked about the elections, illegal votes, court cases, the republics’ status, what to expect on the hill tomorrow. TRUMP WILL RETAIN THE PRESIDENCY!!!” Herbster attended the Jan. 6 rally but said he left before the riot, according to The Omaha World-Herald. The newspaper also reported that Herbster “also met Tuesday in Trump’s private residence in his Washington, D.C., hotel with Trump’s sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, and other campaign advisers.” “They discussed how to pressure more members of Congress to object to the Electoral College results that made Joe Biden the winner,” The Omaha World-Herald reported. APR sent questions to a Tuberville spokesperson Tuesday afternoon asking whether Tuberville had attended a Jan. 5 meeting with Trump, Piper and several others at Trump’s hotel, and if so, why was he called to the meeting and what was discussed. The Tuberville spokeswoman replied in an email: “the answers to your questions are No and Not Applicable”…Herbster deleted his Facebook post after APR’s story published Tuesday evening …APR’s questions to Tuberville’s spokeswoman later on Tuesday clarifying that point, and asking whether Tuberville had met with Piper and others that night at the hotel, weren’t immediately answered. APR also sent the spokeswoman screenshots of the photo of Tuberville in the hotel’s lobby that day and of the Facebook post detailing the meeting. APR hadn’t received a response as of Wednesday morning.
To consider who might be the “ring leader” behind the gangs of seditionists – who inspired them, provoked them, instigated and enabled them – maybe we should listen to the man who has been the primary enabler and “fixer” for the exploits of President Trump (although Mike Pompeo, Bill Barr and Lindsey Graham would be in the running); the man who provided the critical political, legislative and procedural (even legal) cover for him and protection, including the decisive defense cover in both elections and two impeachment trials – the titular head of the Republican Party and conservatives at large, then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. First, let’s hear his defense of the Constitutional process, and a rebuke of the rogue Republican movement to throw out the voter’s preference and install their own minority-supported candidate by means of unlawful legislative trickery by Republican state legislatures, in defiance of the final ruling by the Supreme Court, as he stated in the morning of January 6 to stamp out this act of constitutional rebellions by his Republican House and Senate colleagues who attempted to stop the Constitutional certification process that day, from an Associated Press transcript of his statements from the floor of the Senate before their action:
We are debating a step that has never been taken in American history: Whether Congress should overrule voters and overturn a presidential election. I have served 36 years in the Senate. This will be the most important vote I have ever cast. President Trump claims this election was stolen. The assertions range from specific local allegations to constitutional arguments to sweeping conspiracy theories. I supported the President’s right to use the legal system. But over and over, the courts rejected these claims — including all-star judges whom the President himself nominated. Every election features some illegality and irregularity and it’s unacceptable. I support strong state-led voting reforms. Last year’s bizarre pandemic procedures must not become the new norm. But nothing before us proves illegality anywhere near the massive scale that would have tipped this entire election. Nor can public doubt alone justify a radical break when that doubt was incited without evidence. The Constitution gives Congress a limited role. We cannot simply declare ourselves a national Board of Elections on steroids. The voters, the courts, and the states have all spoken. If we overrule them all, it would damage our republic forever.
This election was not unusually close. Just in recent history, 1976, 2000, and 2004 were all closer. This Electoral College margin is almost identical to 2016. If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral. We’d never see the whole nation accept an election again. Every four years would bring a scramble for power at any cost. The Electoral College would soon cease to exist, leaving the citizens of entire states with no real say in choosing presidents. The effects would go even beyond elections themselves. Self-government requires a shared commitment to truth and shared respect for the ground rules of our system. We cannot keep drifting apart into two separate tribes; with separate facts, and separate realities; with nothing in common except hostility toward each another and mistrust for the few national institutions that we still share…Our duty is to govern for the public good. The United States Senate has a higher calling than an endless spiral of partisan vengeance. Congress will either overrule the voters, the states, and the courts for the first time ever…or honor the people’s decision…We will either hasten down a poisonous path where only the winners of elections accept them… or show we can still muster the patriotic courage that our forebears showed, both in victory and in defeat. The framers built the Senate to stop short-term passions from boiling over and melting the foundations of our Republic. I believe protecting our constitutional order requires respecting limits on our own power. It would be unfair and wrong to disenfranchise American voters and overrule the courts and the states on this thin basis. And I will not pretend such a vote would be a harmless protest gesture while relying on others to do the right thing. I will vote to respect the people’s decision and defend our system of government as we know it.
In exchange for this principled stand, the Capitol invaders shouted out to lynch Mitch McConnell alongside Vice President Mike Pence (who similarly acknowledged his Constitutional role in certifying the will of the voters) when they burst into the building, and even took over the Senate chambers. When order was restored, the congressman were brought back in, passing their destroyed offices and the precious heritage of relics of American history damaged and desecrated within its halls, and reconvened to finish their final process of debate and certification that had been interrupted by the vengeance-minded rebels, and McConnell again shared these thoughts from the floor as the Senate proceeded to finish their certification process, as shown in this transcript from his Senate website:
The United States Senate will not be intimidated. We will not be kept out of this chamber by thugs, mobs, or threats. We will not bow to lawlessness or intimidation. We are back at our posts. We will discharge our duty under the Constitution for our nation. And we are going to do it tonight. This afternoon, Congress began the process of honoring the will of the American people and counting the Electoral College votes. We have fulfilled this solemn duty every four years for more than two centuries. Whether our nation has been at war or at peace, under all manner of threats, even during an ongoing armed rebellion and Civil War, the clockwork of our democracy has carried on. The United States and the United States Congress have faced down much greater threats than the unhinged crowd we saw today. We have never been deterred before and we will not be deterred today. They tried to disrupt our democracy. They failed. This failed attempt to obstruct the Congress, this failed insurrection, only underscores how crucial the task before us is for our Republic.
However, true to form, McConnell then set about protecting the President even during his second impeachment trial, when the prosecutors laid out the provocative acts and statements of President Trump, and his refusal to authorize life-saving National Guard defenses to save the beleaguered Capitol Police and the imperiled congressmen, requiring the sequestered Vice President Pence to finally authorize the rescue force. The Senate members had all been eyewitnesses and experienced these events, and seven Republican senators voted with the Democrats to impeach (the first time that many members of the same party as the accused agreed to do so), but McConnell assured that the majority to impeach would not become the required supermajority to reach conviction, universally understood so as to not upset and enrage the Trump base of support, and their needed future votes of which the Republicans were now the minority of the electorate.
In his typical connivery, McConnell said Trump could not be convicted, by applying a procedural loophole in that the Senate did not receive the impeachment articles before Trump left office (which most legal scholars said is still possible to impeach, by prior precedent), but neglected to mention that they were not received in time merely because McConnell refused to accept them and convene the Senate until a few days after Trump left office, fooling no one except the willfully fooled. Having assured that Trump would not be held accountable (and allowing Trump to cast a shadow over the party as a very possible nominee again in 2024), McConnell inexplicably chose to speak in condemnation of Trump right after the vote, when such statements were meaningless – evidently he thought he could avoid what history will inevitably judge as his Pontius Pilate hand-washing role in the Trump era, by such impotent, post-relevant sanctimonious piety. However in this moment of candor (permitted by its minimal impact), McConnell clearly spelled out, in possibly the most cogent and convincing way – and that from a primary Trump enabler! – who was ultimately responsible for the insurrection in his post-vote statement from the Senate floor, as the transcripts of his remarks attests:
January 6th was a disgrace. American citizens attacked their own government. They use terrorism to try to stop a specific piece of domestic business they did not like. Fellow Americans beat and bloodied our own police. They stormed the center floor. They tried to hunt down the Speaker of the House. They built a gallows and chatted about murdering the vice president. They did this because they’d been fed wild, falsehoods by the most powerful man on earth because he was angry. He lost an election. Former President Trump’s actions preceded the riot or a disgraceful dereliction of duty. The House accused the former president of quote “Incitement.” That is a specific term from the criminal law. Let me just put that aside for a moment and reiterate something I said weeks ago. There’s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. No question about it.
The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president and having that belief was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories, and reckless hyperbole, which the defeated president kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet Earth. The issue is not only the president’s intemperate language on January 6th. It is not just his endorsement of remarks in which an associate urged, quote, “Trial by combat.” It was also the entire manufactured atmosphere of looming catastrophe. The increasingly wild myths about a reverse landslide election that was somehow being stolen. Some secret coup by our now president. Now I defended the president’s right to bring any complaints to our legal system. The legal system spoke, the electoral college spoke. As I stood up and said, clearly at that time, the election was settled. It was over, but that just really opened a new chapter of even wilder and more unfounded claims. The leader of the free world cannot spend weeks thundering that shadowy forces are stealing our country and then feign surprise when people believe him and do reckless things. I sadly see many politicians sometimes make overheated comments or use metaphors. We saw that. That unhinged listeners might take literally, but that was different. That’s different from what we saw. This was an intensifying crescendo of conspiracy theories orchestrated by an outgoing president who seemed determined to either overturn the voter’s decision or else torch our institutions on the way out. The unconscionable behavior did not end when the violence actually began.
Whatever our ex president claims he thought might happen a day, whatever right reaction he’s says he meant to produce by that afternoon we know he was watching the same live television as the rest of us. A mob was assaulting the Capitol in his name, these criminals who are carrying his banners, hanging his flags and screaming their loyalty to him. It was obvious that only President Trump could end this. He was the only one who could. Former aides publicly begged him to do so. Loyal allies frantically called the administration. The president did not act swiftly. He did not do his job. He didn’t take steps so federal law could be faithfully executed and order restored. No, instead, according to public reports, he watched television happily as the chaos unfolded. He kept pressing his scheme to overturn the election. Now, even after it was clear to any reasonable observer that Vice President Pence was in serious danger. Even as the mob carrying Trump banners was beating cops and breaching perimeters their president sent a further tweet, attacking his own vice president.
Now predictably and foreseeably under the circumstances, members of the mob seemed to interpret this as a further inspiration to lawlessness and violence not surprisingly. Later, even when the president did halfheartedly began calling for peace he didn’t call right away for the riot to end. He did not tell the mob to depart until even later. And even then with police officers bleeding and broken glass covering Capitol floors, he kept repeating election laws and praising the criminals. In recent weeks, our ex-president’s associates have tried to use the 74 million Americans who voted to reelect him as a kind of human shield against criticism. Anyone who decries his awful behavior is accused of insulting millions of voters. That’s an absurd deflection. 74 million Americans did not invade the Capitol, hundreds of rioters did. 74 million Americans did not engineer the campaign of disinformation and rage that provoked it. One person did, just one.
I’ve made my view of this episode very plain, but our system of government gave the Senate a specific task. The Constitution gives us a particular role. This body is not invited to act as the nation’s overarching moral tribunal. We’re not free to work backward from whether the accused party might personally deserve some kind of punishment…If President Trump were still in office, I would have carefully considered whether the House managers proved their specific charge…But in this case, the question is moot because former President Trump is constitutionally not eligible for conviction. Now this is a close question. No doubt. Donald Trump was the president when the House voted. Though, not when the House chose to deliver the paper. Brilliant scholars argue both sides of this jurisdictional question. The text is legitimately ambiguous…this underscores that impeachment was never meant to be the final forum for American justice. It is not the criminal justice system where individual accountability is the paramount goal. Indeed Justice Story specifically reminded that while former officials were not eligible for impeachment or conviction, they were, and this was extremely important, still liable to be tried and punished in the ordinary tribunals of justice. Put another way in the language of today, President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office as an ordinary citizen. Unless the statute of limitations is run, still liable for everything he did while he was in office. Didn’t get away with anything, yet. Yet. We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation and former presidents are not immune from being accountable by either one… The Senate’s decision today does not condone anything that happened on or before that terrible day.
If the reader is desirous of yet further information as to the confirmed identities of the participants and their affiliations (and I always appreciate folks who are really committed to exhaustive review of the facts and data gathering), they can consider reports such as this one by the Associated Press, which notes that its findings contradict reports cited by GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz’s claim hours after the insurrection that the Capitol invaders were members of Antifa (a subject we will explore in depth shortly), and lists other common, “salt of the earth” folk from “God’s country” in the Bible Belt who headed to D.C. with “armor piercing ammo” and aimed to “put a bullet in the noggin'” of Nancy Pelosi (as one such person bragged online, who also publicly stated his intent to run her over with his car, and stating that “I predict that within 12 days, many in our country will die”). They also note that this white man texted a photo of himself in blackface, adding that “I’m gonna walk around DC FKG with people by yelling ‘Allahu ak Bar’ randomly” (the FBI later arrested him and found “a compact Tavor X95 assault rifle, a 9mm Glock 19 handgun and about 100 rounds of ammunition, according to court filings,” and “also seized a stash of THC edibles and a vial of injectable testosterone.” They also cite participants recently released from prison for murder, and Q adherents, such as one arrested for chasing a lone black officer throughout the Capitol building, as well as middle-aged mothers arrested for being involved in the siege, a number of aforementioned military officers arrayed in military assault gear, members of the Proud Boys, small business owners and big-dollar Trump donor CEOs, Slavic immigrants such as an “ambassador” for Charlie Kirk’s Turning Point USA who tried to allege that “blinking lights” she saw on Georgia’s voting machines were signs of tampering (a claim local GOP leaders debunked), and law enforcement and elected official insurrectionists are profiled.
To give a broader context of the curious demographic of the typical Capitol insurrectionists based upon very preliminary data, The Atlantic reported on February 2 that
For the past decade and a half, our research team at the Chicago Project on Security and Threats has conducted demographic studies of international and domestic terrorists. Four years ago, our study of 112 people who U.S. authorities suspected were involved with the Islamic State undercut a widespread assumption that supporters of the group were uneducated, isolated, and unemployed. In recent weeks, our team of more than 20 researchers has been reviewing court documents and media coverage for information on the demographics, socioeconomic traits, and militant-group affiliations (if any) of everyone arrested by the FBI, Capitol Police, and Washington, D.C., police for offenses related to the January 6 insurrection. As of late last week, 235 people fell into that category, and the number is expected to grow. Of these suspects, 193 have been charged with being inside the Capitol building or with breaking through barriers to enter the Capitol grounds. We focused our research on these 193. We compared our findings on these suspected insurrectionists with demographic data that we had previously compiled on the 108 individuals arrested by the FBI and local law-enforcement agencies around the country for violence related to right-wing political causes from 2015 to 2020. We used the same methodology to analyze both groups: Our team reviewed all court documents related to each arrest—which include criminal complaints, statement of facts, and affidavits—and conducted searches of media coverage of each arrestee. Four findings stand out.
First, the attack on the Capitol was unmistakably an act of political violence, not merely an exercise in vandalism or trespassing amid a disorderly protest that had spiraled out of control. The overwhelming reason for action, cited again and again in court documents, was that arrestees were following Trump’s orders to keep Congress from certifying Joe Biden as the presidential-election winner. Dozens of arrestees, court records indicate, made statements explaining their intentions in detail on social media or in interviews with the FBI…Second, a large majority of suspects in the Capitol riot have no connection to existing far-right militias, white-nationalist gangs, or other established violent organizations. We erred on the side of inclusion; we counted an arrestee as affiliated with such an organization if any court documents or news articles describe the person as a member, refer to social-media posts expressing an affinity for a certain group, or attest to patches or apparel that directly indicate support. By these standards, 20 of the Capitol arrestees we studied— one-tenth—can be classified as supporters of gangs, militias, or militia-like groups such as the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and Three Percenters. The role that such groups played in the riot has attracted considerable news coverage. But 89 percent of the arrestees have no apparent affiliation with any known militant organization. Connections were far more common among the suspected right-wing extremists arrested after incidents of deadly violence from 2015 to 2020. Of these, 26 percent were members of white-nationalist gangs (including skinhead groups and the Aryan Brotherhood), and 22 percent were part of militias and other organized groups (such as the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters).
Third, the demographic profile of the suspected Capitol rioters is different from that of past right-wing extremists. The average age of the arrestees we studied is 40. Two-thirds are 35 or older, and 40 percent are business owners or hold white-collar jobs. Unlike the stereotypical extremist, many of the alleged participants in the Capitol riot have a lot to lose. They work as CEOs, shop owners, doctors, lawyers, IT specialists, and accountants. Strikingly, court documents indicate that only 9 percent are unemployed. Of the earlier far-right-extremist suspects we studied, 61 percent were under 35, 25 percent were unemployed, and almost none worked in white-collar occupations.
Fourth, most of the insurrectionists do not come from deep-red strongholds…of those arrested for their role in the Capitol riot, more than half came from counties that Biden won; one-sixth came from counties that Trump won with less than 60 percent of the vote…We found that 39 percent of suspected insurrectionists came from battleground counties, where Trump received 40 to 60 percent of the vote; 12 percent came from counties where less than 60 percent of the population is white. In these and many other ways, the mix of counties from which the arrestees hailed was typical of all American counties. Importantly, our statistics show that the larger the absolute number of Trump voters in a county—regardless of whether he won it—the more likely it was to be home to a Capitol arrestee. Big metropolitan centers where Biden won overwhelmingly, such as the counties that include New York City, San Francisco, and Dallas, still have hundreds of thousands of Trump supporters. A third of suspected insurrectionists come from such counties; another quarter come from suburban counties of large metro areas. This breakdown mirrors the American population as a whole—and that is the point.
The information that our team analyzed has certain limits. While we studied only people whose alleged behavior triggered an arrest by law enforcement, different police agencies have different standards for when to act. Moreover, the arrests of suspected right-wing extremists as long ago as 2015 might lead to a years-long paper trail that includes evidence of militia or gang affiliations; in contrast, those arrested since January 6 might have affiliations not yet known to investigators. What’s clear is that the Capitol riot revealed a new force in American politics—not merely a mix of right-wing organizations, but a broader mass political movement that has violence at its core and draws strength even from places where Trump supporters are in the minority. Preventing further violence from this movement will require a deeper understanding of its activities and participants…Americans who believe in democratic norms should be wary of pat solutions. Some of the standard methods of countering violent extremism—such as promoting employment or waiting patiently for participants to mellow with age—probably won’t mollify middle-aged, middle-class insurrectionists. And simply targeting better-established far-right organizations will not prevent people like the Capitol rioters from trying to exercise power by force.
This curious demographic data – if shown over time to have some validity – could partially debunk initial knee-jerk assumptions and biases of even people like myself, or other investigators or analysts, as to the causes and correlations of these types of views and behaviors with stereotypes, if we’re not careful. The bigger question is – how do we confront and manage a widespread close-minded, violent and aggression-oriented, and sometimes lawless cult of those we see as brain-washed and dangerous, if they come from amongst our own ranks, and from our neighborhoods and circles – and even churches?
In Part 3 of this series, we will look at how different elements of America’s faith community responded on the day of the insurrection, and in the aftermath how they perceived the true culprits, including major Christian and conservative media and their “Antifa” claims, how it was generated and spread (and by whom), allied conservative figures who joined in and later ashamedly renounced such claims to Trump and the public, and how the conservative citizenry ignored such debunking and has clung to the “Antifa insurrectionist” manufactured narrative, and associated myths.
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