Home Posts They Were Not Tourists: The Capitol Riot's Radicals
They Were Not Tourists: The Capitol Riot's Radicals
Capitol Riot

They Were Not Tourists: The Capitol Riot's Radicals


A ragtag band of hapless, harmless dopes. A group of righteously concerned patriots. Confused tourists.

In the six months since the dramatic conflict at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, large parts of the Republican Party have labored to make the case that what happened that day was no big deal, working alongside the right-wing media machine. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) argued that it was a “largely peaceful protest.” Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) — who can be seen in photos from Jan.

There were some people at the Capitol who were basically harmless and claimed they had no idea what was going to happen. A 49-year-old Indiana woman was sentenced this week in federal court on a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge for being inside the Capitol for only 10 minutes, during which she did not break anything or assault anyone, prosecutors say. She will not serve prison time.

Graydon Young of Sarasota, Florida, pleaded guilty later that day to far more serious charges, facing up to 78 months in prison for conspiring with members of the far-right Oath Keepers militia to overrun the Capitol and prevent electoral votes from being counted. He will cooperate with authorities in cases against his co-conspirators.

Young's case highlights a fundamental, terrifying fact about Jan. 6: a dedicated core of bad actors, ranging from the organizers of the "Stop the Steal" rally to a diverse range of extremists and militia members, came to Washington to derail the democratic process, and they nearly succeeded.

On this half-year anniversary of that fateful day, it is critical to remember the horror of it, to keep our fading sense of shock alive, so that those who were complicit face justice and it never happens again.

Who Were the Extremists?

Nationalists of the White Race

President Donald Trump famously justified the actions of violent white supremacists at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in the summer of 2017, declaring that there were “very fine people” on both sides of the deadly event.

On January 6, a large number of those very white nationalists descended on Washington, D.C. to assist Trump in his efforts to overturn the results of a fair election.

Nick Fuentes, leader of the white nationalist America First “groyper” movement, marched alongside neo-Nazis in Charlottesville in 2017 and allegedly used a megaphone to implore a crowd of his supporters to attack the Capitol on Jan. 6. “Keep moving towards the Capitol — it appears we are taking the Capitol back!” he said. “Break down the barriers and disregard the police. The Capitol belongs to us.”

Tim Gionet, also known as “Baked Alaska,” a white nationalist troll who marched in Charlottesville, allegedly said on the livestream, “We are in the Capitol building. 1776 will commence again,” according to court documents. “America First is inevitable!”

On Jan. 6, a “America First” flag, a flag for the white nationalist website VDare, and an alt-right Kekistan flag were all seen at the Capitol.

Other white supremacists were present as well, including Timothy Hale-Cusanelli, a US Army reservist who prosecutors say was known to coworkers as a Nazi sympathizer who wore a "Hitler mustache" at his naval security job.

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Inside the Capitol, Robert Keith Packer was seen wearing a sweatshirt with a skull and crossbones and the words “Camp Auschwitz: Work Means Freedom,” a reference to the slogan outside the infamous Nazi death camp where over 1 million people, the majority of whom were Jews, were murdered.

Richard Barnett, a self-proclaimed white nationalist from Arkansas, was famously photographed sitting with his feet propped up on a desk in the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

According to a police affidavit, Bryan Betancur of Maryland is a "member of several white supremacy organizations" who has "voiced homicidal ideations, made comments about conducting a school shooting, and has researched mass shootings." He has also allegedly "voiced support for James Fields, the individual convicted for killing an individual with his car during protests in Charlottesville, V.I."

Betancur was photographed outside the Capitol with a Confederate flag, and he is facing multiple charges, including unlawful activities on Capitol grounds and disorderly conduct.

The Boys who are Proud

When asked to condemn the violent neo-fascist gang the Proud Boys during a 2020 presidential debate, Trump said only that the members of the group should "stand back and watch."

When Trump announced his “wild” rally on Jan. 6, the president’s black-shirted Proud Boys showed up in droves.

Over 30 Proud Boys have been arrested for their roles in the riot, including four of the group's leaders, who are all now facing conspiracy charges.

Prosecutors allege that Ethan Nordean, Zach Rehl, Charles Donohoe, and Joseph Biggs orchestrated the Proud Boys' assault on Capitol police officers and entry into the building.

Dominic Pezzola and William Pepe, two other Proud Boys, are also charged with conspiracy. Pezzola allegedly stole a riot shield from a police officer and used it to smash a window in what has been called the first real breach of the Capitol building. In court filings in January, law enforcement agents said they discovered a thumb drive containing bomb-making instructions in Pezzola's home.

The Oath Keepers are the people who keep the oaths that they

The Oath Keepers are one of America's most visible armed far-right paramilitary organizations, having "steeped itself in conspiracy theories and trained for a revolution against the state" for the past two decades, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

On Jan. 6, the Oath Keepers staged an attack on the government, donning helmets and vests and forming a military-style "stack" formation to push their way through the crowd, up the Capitol steps, and into the building.

Sixteen Oath Keepers have been charged in a massive federal conspiracy case, according to the Department of Justice. The paramilitary group members allegedly “agreed to plan and participate in an operation to interfere with the certification of the electoral college vote by coordinating in advance with others, using websites and social media to recruit participants, and traveling to Washington, D.C., with paramilitary group members.”

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Two of the defendants have already pleaded guilty and agreed to assist prosecutors in their prosecution of the extremist group.

Mark Grods, one of the men who pleaded guilty, admitted to hiding firearms in a Virginia hotel across the Potomac River.

Prosecutors claim the weapons were kept there by the Oath Keepers in case the violence at the Capitol escalated and they needed more firepower.

QAnon
The QAnon movement is founded on the foundational belief that an anonymous high-ranking government official known only as "Q" has been leaving cryptic clues online about a secret, globalist cabal of Satan-worshipping, blood-drinking pedophiles working in collaboration with the Democratic Party to undermine and destroy Trump.

For the Q faithful, the forecast for Jan. 6 was promising, and an opportunity to show their loyalty to the president and participate in history.

According to researchers at the University of Maryland's National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, approximately 40 QAnon believers have been arrested for participating in the insurgency.

They include, perhaps most infamously, Jacob Chansley, a 33-year-old Arizona man known as the "QAnon Shaman," who could be seen wearing horns, a bearskin headdress, and red, white, and blue face paint in multiple viral photos and videos.

Prosecutors accuse Chansley of forcing his way into the Senate chamber, where he sat in then-Vice President Mike Pence's chair and left a note that read: "ITS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME JUSTICE IS COMING!" Earlier that day, Pence had refused Trump's request to block Joe Biden's election as the next President of the United States.

Douglas Jensen, another QAnon adherent, can be seen in a viral video (shot by Stardia's Igor Bobic) chasing U.S. Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman through the Capitol building, shouting at Goodman as he runs up the stairs toward the officer, "We're here for the corrupt government!"

According to a court filing from his attorney, Christopher M. Davis, Jensen now has regrets about joining the QAnon movement.

“Jensen became a victim of numerous conspiracy theories that were being fed to him over the internet by a number of very clever people,” Davis wrote. “Six months later, languishing in a DC Jail cell, locked down the majority of the time, he feels deceived, recognizing that he bought into a pack of lies.”

By The Numbers, A Serious Plot

500

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The number of people arrested on charges related to the Capitol storming, which federal prosecutors say could amount to the largest investigation in American history.

411
The number of suspect photos on the FBI's Capitol violence "most wanted" website. Hundreds of people identified by the agency have yet to be arrested. Among those photos: an image from a surveillance camera showing a person — seen wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, a face mask, and Nike Air Max Speed Turf sneakers — who allegedly placed pipe bombs near the headquarters of both the Democrat and Republican parties.

100
The number of people arrested during the riot for assaulting federal law enforcement officers. Robert Sanford, a 55-year-old retired Pennsylvania firefighter, allegedly struck three police officers with a fire extinguisher.

150 
The number of officers injured in the attack. One officer lost the tip of his right index finger after being stabbed with a metal fence stake. Others were hit over the head with baseball bats and flagpoles. Rioters attacked officers with bear spray, irritating their eyes and lungs. One officer suffered cracked ribs and shattered spinal discs. Many were concussed. Some have brain injuries.

2
The number of Capitol Police officers who took their own lives following the riot.

51
The number of people arrested with military backgrounds for rioting. Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Larry Rendall Brock Jr. was photographed on the Senate floor wearing a helmet and combat gear, zip ties in his right hand.

During a court hearing, Assistant United States Attorney Jay Weimer claimed, "He intends to take hostages, kidnap, restrain, possibly try, possibly execute members of the United States government."

Brock is charged with unlawfully entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds, as well as violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

46

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The number of off-duty or former police officers arrested in connection with the attack. Thomas Robertson, a former Rocky Mount, Virginia, police officer, is accused of storming the building and then posing for photos inside. He has pleaded not guilty to multiple charges, including obstruction of an official proceeding.

A judge stipulated that Robertson could not own any firearms or destructive devices while his case was pending, but prosecutors said last month that law enforcement agents discovered a loaded M4 carbine and a partially built pipe bomb during a search of Robertson's home.

forty billion

The amount of money allocated by the House to the Architect of the Capitol for repairs related to the attack. Rioters broke windows and doors, ransacked offices, stole objects, and vandalized statues and walls. (A door was graffitied with "Murder The Media.")

The residue of bear repellent, pepper spray, and fire extinguishers was left behind, causing damage to historical art and furniture, as well as shattering a 19th-century gold mirror.

During the attack, rioters stole or attempted to steal the following items: chairs, a lamp, drawers, documents, the US flag from the Senate chamber, a coat rack, a bottle of bourbon, a bottle of wine, a Senate procedure book, and Pelosi's lectern.

521 million

The amount of money set aside by Congress to reimburse the National Guard for expenses incurred while responding to the riot; National Guard troops were stationed at the Capitol for five months following the attack.

57
The number of state and local GOP officials identified by Stardia as attending the rally preceding the insurgency, which included “a QAnon conspiracy theorist; a self-described member of a fascist militia; and a man who once declared that ‘the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.’”

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