By Jason Williams
Taxpayer Association of Oregon
To better understand this historic Washington DC riot I have poured through extensive articles, arrests reports and hours of news and raw footage. The riot is simultaneously being exploited by some politicians and downplayed by others and it is imperative that we look at the arrest data to know exactly WHO caused the violence and HOW and WHY they did it.
My analysis points to some blame and responsibility among many parties and not a one-size-fits-all political answer.
Finally, In this report, I include additional information I learned from monitoring the Portland riots over 6-months because the similarities between both riots are extraordinary and point to a bigger problem America is facing.
Here are some raw numbers:
700 people entered the US Capitol
140+ arrests have been made
Organized militia-style group members arrested
7 Proud Boys Members
3 Oath Keepers
2 Three percenters
Organized anti-semitic group members arrested
1 Jackson Strong
1 Rise Up Ocean City
Organized conspiracy group members arrested
5 (* Can’t mention name least the article get banned)
1 Texas County Commissioner
1 Virginia State Representative
1 Vice-Chair Oregon Young GOP
Public Servants (current/ex)
3 Law enforcement
1 Hospital worker
3 Corporate Executives
2 Massachusetts anti-LGBT organization staff members
2 America’s Frontline Doctor staff members
1 Outspoken White Supremacist
1 Nazi sympathizer
16% of those arrested had a military background
Here are 16 insights and lessons learned:
#1 Problems arose before the President spoke:
As the President was taking the stage there were already crowds beginning to confront police outside the US Capitol (nearly two miles away from where the President and rally was held). Within a few minutes of the President starting his speech the first Capitol barrier was charged. This demonstrates that something was going on at the protest that was beyond the President’s speech.
#2. There was an organized criminal element at the riot:
People came to the Capitol armed with guns, mace, Molotov cocktails, and even a spear. Police officers can be seen being attacked with baseball bats and hockey sticks. One man alone was caught with five guns, eleven Molotov cocktails, a crossbow and smoke bombs. Eric Mucnhel, famous for being photographed jumping the Senate gallery, came armed with a pile of zip-ties and a cache of weapons he stashed a few blocks away.
A Wall Street Journal analysis points to six Proud Boys members who were at the forefront of all the major breech points including the first fence breech and the first Capitol building breech. They were organized and communicating through walkie talkies with members at different breech points. One of the Proud Boys chief organizer was Joe Biggs who proclaimed previously on Parler, “Every lawmakers (sic) who break their own ****** laws should be dragged out and hung”.
Robert Anthony was arrested at the Capitol for carrying two metal pipes and a liquor bottle. His phone contained a self-incriminating message, “We need to get the f***k out with this trophy.” referring to his friend who stole a Capitol coat rack and later fled police with it in his hands.
Riley Williams (photo above) stole a laptop from Nancy Pelosi’s Office and was alleged to have tried to sell it to the Russians. Williams was seen directing people on where to go in the Capitol which appeared as if it was coordinated.
We cannot stop future political violence until we recognize the role that organized political groups play in committing crimes.
#3. There were people there to stir up trouble:
Rally attendee Mike St. Pierre said, “Most of the people that were there, were there just to have their voices heard. But there were people there just to rile everybody up.”
Video captured this man making multiple inciting statements that were emblematic of the riot.
Utah resident John Sullivan can be seen at several breaching points in the riot He can be seen on video yelling, “This is a revolution. Let’s take this ********! This ********* is ours! Let’s burn this ****** down!”. At another point, he is seen on video offering rioters the use of his knife to help break open a Capitol door.
Sullivan’s case is extremely complicated because he has attended Black Lives Matter protests last year and often criticizes all political sides of protests. He also formed a group called Insurgence USA and co-founder of Civilized Awakening, and at one time invited Proud Boys to speak at a protest. His brother, who reported him to the FBI, effectively said his brother keeps changing his identity upon who asks the question making it hard to pinpoint his true motivations. Sullivan is important because he is often hailed as a possible leftist insurgent and many people use him to make the claim that the DC riot was a progressive plot. What is known is that Sullivan was a repeated front-line provocateur at the riot. One of many.
A hangman’s stage was brought to the riot.
A real estate agent from Texas, Jenna Ryan, posted her advanced intentions on her Facebook before she joined the rally by saying, “We’re gonna go down and storm the capitol. They’re down there right now and that’s why we came and so that’s what we are going to do. So wish me luck.”
Ryan’s statement and others reflect that individual people came to the rally with purposeful and destructive intentions.
#4. Protesters were savage in their attack on police.
Several protesters dragged a police officer down Capitol steps and then beat him.
While he was being beaten, people screamed, “Take his gun and kill him with it”
Police were many times crushed by crowds that pressed against them, people tearing off their weapons to use against the officers.
Sometimes people would mace officers or tear off their protective gear
#5. Scaling down law enforcement set police up for a trap.
Before the riot, the Mayor of DC declined the help of National Guard at the Capitol and ordered them to stay out of the way of any protesters. The Mayor was surely still fearful from criticism of having used too much force during President Trump’s visit to St. John’s Church last year. The expected size of the rally followed by evidence of online chatter of organized threats reveal that the police presence was dangerously low based upon the documented threats.
This is the exact same problem that happened in the Charlottesville’s riot where the violence spread out of control and resulted in many killed and injured. A Charlottesville investigation revealed that police used a light presence and were ordered to stay away from protest altercations. This is exactly what happened in Portland when politicians responded to the initial days of rioting by pulling out National Guard troops from being used and then pushing rules that critically hamstrung police from controlling future riots. The end result was MORE riots, 120 straight days, on a destructive scale rarely seen in any American city since the Civil War era riots. Charlottesville, Portland and Washington DC all carry the same lesson.
Now that Washington DC has been so victimized by the riot, they responded by erecting massive fences, two-week curfews and deploying 15,000 National Guard troops. This just proves the critical role of a strong law enforcement presence.
The role of the DC Mayor cannot be overlooked when it comes to understanding the DC riot.
#6. Famous faces behind the riots did not even vote.
Buffalo hat guy (Jacob Chansley), podium looter (Adam Christian Johnson) and zip-tie man (Eric Munchel) show no voting records for either Presidential elections 2020 or 2016. The podium man and zip-tie man haven’t voted at all. The fact that a Trump rally attracted people who didn’t vote for Trump reveals that political protests are attracting outsiders, and many of these outsiders are committing crimes. If people hosting future political rallies do not understand this, they will likely encounter the same problems.
#7. Attracting people with mental health, homeless problems.
The man who stuck police officers with a baseball bat, Emanuel Jackson, was homeless. He said he was at the event, not for Trump but for America. The young person who smoked pot on Senator Jeff Merkley’s desk was living out of his car. The former Olympic Gold Medalist who was arrested, Klete Keller, was described by his former coach as recently been homeless after a mental health breakdown. One survey of arrest reports reveal that 60% of those arrested were suffering from financial problems and a bankruptcy rate 18% twice the national average. One of the top inciters previously discussed, John Sullivan, appeared unstable enough in court that the judge ordered a mental health evaluation with a mandatory treatment program based upon the findings.
The Buffalo hat guy described himself as a type of Native American-style Shaman priest for his particular conspiracy beliefs and also considers himself an alien. The man next to Buffalo-hat guy, is Nicholas Rodean, for which his attorney has pleading that his client suffers from “special needs”. The fact that Rodean showed up to the Capitol riot wearing his company’s photo ID badge on his chest as seen in the photo above reveals a sense of detachment from reality.
The presence of some people with mental health problems at political protests was something I personally witnessed at the Portland protests. At Portland’s 100th night protest, there was man walking around aimlessly asking people dangerous things like “Where are the AK-47s? We need guns.” He was seen at other protests. Violent political protests of all political stripes are attracting more and more people with mental health and homeless issues. Once again, if people hosting future political rallies do not understand this, they will likely encounter the same problems.
#8. Conflicting beliefs in an upside down reality:
Raw video footage shows many instances where people inside the invaded Capitol were contradicting themselves and living in a upside down reality.
Most obvious was the rioters praising police in the middle of rioting.
Here are some examples attaching quotes to video captured images of when they were used:
Here is another example taken a from a video clip.
There was a strange moment when one rioter convinced another rioter to stop sitting in the Senate Chair because it was disrespectful to Mike Pence. See below:
The brief Mike Pence Chair debate reflects the twisted contradictory reality that many of these rioters were existing in. Political movements are involving an increasing number of people who are not bound by neither political core principles or by traditional principles of absolute right and wrong. This is why we see images of people beating police with American flags and even a former firefighter using a fire extinguisher to assault police.
We witnessed this on the Left during the Portland riots where racial justice protesters looted Black owned businesses and destroyed shops with pro-BLM signs. Protest and populists movements are becoming a crowd morality of itself where there is no unified principle or shared ethics. It is pure mob mentality.
#9. The curse of fatalism and Now-or-Neverism:
If you listen to the people’s statements at the riot you hear a lot of fatalism. You here this everywhere. One of cable news highest rated program, Tucker Carlson, spent a lot of time describing the Georgia election as so high stakes that Republicans risk never winning a Congressional majority EVER AGAIN in American history. Carlson’s now-or-never message was constant.
I found the same message at the Oregon Jan. 6th Trump rally at the Oregon Capitol. A speaker described that this is the “last chance” to save America and it may already be too late. What I find interesting is that I heard the exact same message from the anarchists at their January 1st rally, also held in Salem Oregon. Two opposing political rallies with the same now-or-never language being used, in the same city in the same week.
The man who smoked pot on Senator Merkey’s desk, Brandon Fellows, saw the DC riot as “This is the last stand” for our country.
Leo Kelly who broke into the Senate floor said, “It’s just, you come to the end of your rope…”
At the scene of the men talking before the pile of destroyed media equipment a man could be heard yelling “We need to die standing on our feet like men”
Fear and fatalism politics is a double problem because it drives most people away from being involved in politics and for those it attracts it becomes a motivator for them to rationalize violence. This is why politicians and activists words can fuel the toxic environment that leads people to justify violence.
#10. Setting up protester to fail.
The President’s push to get the Vice President to interfere with election results was unconstitutional and needless to say, something that if liberals were to do, conservatives would be howling “unconstitutional!!!”. People were being pushed into a dead-end scenario.
One of the Republican Congress’ most respected voices, Dan Crenshaw, said it best, “The real cause of Wednesday’s unrest was that many officeholders and commentators misled millions of Americans to believe that the vote count was their final chance to have a say, and their last, best chance to fight for election integrity. Millions were lied to and told they had to fight at our Capitol or all would be lost. But Jan. 6 was merely ceremonial—with or without the protesters, the unconstitutional right of objection some lawmakers invoked would have resulted in nothing more than a couple of hours of debate.”
This sentiment was even felt among the protesters. One of the most famous faces of the anti-lockdown movement, Oregon salon owner, Lindsey Graham, went to the protest (without rioting or going into the Capitol) and explained her disappointment that she was falsely led to believe that Mike Pence could reverse the election.
Rioter Jenna Ryan (who in advance broadcasted her storm-the-Capitol intentions) also confessed, “I bought into a lie, and the lie is the lie, and it’s embarrassing. I regret everything…I see that it was all over nothing.” Ryan admits she was fighting a battle that could not be won.
Having been involved in fighting voter fraud for over 15 years in Oregon, I can tell you the nature of voting fraud is very difficult to investigate, prove and fix. This is why it requires the solution to be long-term, extensive and investigated through an independent bipartisan commission just like the one set up after the Bush-Gore 2000 election controversy. Since many of Trump lawyers lost key court battles after the election, this commission path was even more important. The President’s decision to pivot to the battle over Pence was unconstitutional and egregious, and the following riot ended up derailing any chance at such commission.
#11. Quickly condemning helps
Congressional allies, Senator Lindsey Graham and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, pushed the White House to respond immediately. The President’s own aides pushed him to respond immediately. President Trump did not follow their advice. When Trump later agreed, his aides fought with him to get the key words “Be peaceful” in his first official response by Tweet. The Tweet worked for some, as even buffalo hat guy said, “Donald Trump asked everybody to go home. He just put out a tweet. It’s a minute long. He asked everybody to go home.” which prompted him to leave the Capitol building. Unfortunately signal problems in the Capitol due to the riot prevented many more from receiving the Tweet announcement. This response to violence must be included in our lessons learned because condemning political violence is essential to stopping it.
In Oregon, it took over 90 days of nightly rioting before the Governor and nearly a hundred other notable progressive leaders took an aggressive public condemnation of the riots. By that time it was too late and all the effectiveness of their words was meaningless. Our response matters.
The response factor is relevant (not for impeachment politics) but because today many political leaders feel in the exact same conflicted spot as the President. When you see a protest back a message you support and then you see some people involved participate in violence it can be hard to discern what is going on and who is responsible. That should not stop us from condemning the violence itself. It does not hurt one’s cause to condemn acts of violence — it does hurt your cause when you don’t.
#12. Losing their voice.
If you watch the raw footage and the interviews, one of the more common themes is that the rioters feel like their voice is being stripped away. Interestingly, a Harris poll shows that “free speech” is the number one freedom most Americans feel is being taken away.
The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board, made this chilling warning after the corporate censorship following the DC riot, “Dissenting opinion won’t vanish because tech CEOs ban it. The views will go underground, perhaps become radicalized in frustration, and eventually burst into the open in the streets. Perceived political abuses by tech firms are becoming a major engine of populism in the 21st century, and the companies’ moves on Parler will supply an infusion of fuel…New and aggressive uses of corporate, politically endorsed power to silence larger swathes of the right will be destructive in a way that all Americans may live to regret.”
Americans have tolerated the infringement of many rights over the generations, but the curbs on Free Speech may be an infringement that angers people the most. In a way, if you lose Free Speech you are compelled to feel all the other rights too will soon be compromised because you have no voice to stop it. As stated, (1) Free Speech was a major issue among the protesters (2) Free Speech is the #1 issue most Americans feel threatened to lose and (3) even the media is beginning to issue dire warnings about Free Speech infringements.
None of this is an excuse for the DC political violence, but I believe Free Speech is most under-noticed component of the modern populist movement which showing signs of violence. It needs to be a top agenda item right now. Yet, the DC riot has embolden politicians to propose plans to curtail our Free Speech and civil liberties. It cannot be overstated how toxic and self-destructive acts of political violence have become because it is actively threatening our other rights we are trying to protect.
#13. People should have known better.
With the large number of first responders, police and military (as much as 18%) among the arrested it reveals that they knew better. Two active duty police officers from the same town were fired. Having a sitting State lawmaker and County Commissioner is further evidence that they should have known better than to participate storming the Capitol. This is why the problems behind the DC riot indicate larger issues driving the problem.
#14. Instant regret.
After reviewing countless arrest news stories, the single most common thread in them all is the expression of regret and rioters confessing that they got “caught up” in something.
Joe Hogan, who was featured next to a stolen Nancy Pelosi sign, admitted he got “caught up” in the moment.
Mike St. Pierre said, “I’m not a violent guy, but I did get caught up in the moment…I felt like crap the next day, I still feel like crap over the incident. It was supposed to be chanting and having our voices heard, but it turned into a girl dying and an officer dying. It got out of hand.”
Josiah Colt who sat in the Senate chair said he just “got caught up in the moment.” And “I beg for forgiveness from America and my home state of Idaho.”
Leo Kelly who broke into the Senate floor said, “…you get swept up in a movement.”
None of these are excuses. Instead, these are a foretaste of our future if we do not work to stop political violence in our protests. People now peaceful protesting may soon find themselves uttering these words of regret unless we curb the pull to embrace political violence. If we do not learn form the lessons in this report, we may continue to witness more people breaking laws for the first time and then expressing deep regret for what they did.
#15 Signs of inner struggle.
The last point may be the most relevant to you and I.
As the DC event unfolded, you can see people in the crowd debating and arguing against what people were saying and doing.
I have seen this inner-struggle at local protests. For instance, at the Oregon Jan 6th Trump Rally at the Oregon Capitol there were people who were upset and argued against burning an effigy of Governor Kate Brown. At the Portland protests you can see examples of people trying to stop others from committing violence. I remember witnessing a man calming down and preventing another protestor from using his baseball bat to bash a disrupter in the crowd. It was a frightening moment that could have turned violent but cooler heads prevailed with little time to spare.
This struggle reflects the inner struggle America is having over the role of violence. This is why we all need to police against violence in our own protests. We must speak up at the rallies themselves when people incite and flirt with criminal behavior.
At a September Trump Rally at the Oregon Capitol a man with a bullhorn shouted “Democratic lawmakers should be shot dead in the streets.” Some didn’t respond while others visibly cheered. That was a moment when ethical people should have stood up and said something.
As the DC arrest data suggests, many of the people who are committing the acts of violence are (1) part of organizations with criminal intent (2) unorganized ruthless inciters (3) estranged by mental illness, homelessness, etc. (4) don’t share your political values (5) have hideous conditional morals (6) blinded by now-or-never fears (6) and ultimately will regret what they do in the morning.
None of the reasons behind the rioters excuses their behavior. They deserve 100% punishment. As conservatives we want law and order and full prosecution. These 140 criminals and 550 others un-arrested who entered the Capitol, created unspeakable damage to our country, our laws, our police and our values. They betrayed the 100,000 to 200,000 non-violent people at the rally. Certain conservative leaders need to stop excusing their behavior and realize that this a growing political problem.
Post-script: There was not enough time or space to properly research and include a host of other factors (social media, conspiracy theories, confirmation bias, media exploitation, etc.) that are equally important. Some of the unmentioned key reasons are already well broadcasted and debated. I kept most of my focus on areas of constructive criticism and useful insight.
Bonus fact: I found it interesting a news video clip of the buffalo-hat guy weeks prior to the riot. It shows him at an election protest rally in Arizona. He is extolling peace and trying to keep the Trump crowd from arguing with one another saying, “C’mon guys we are a peaceful demonstration, we are not going to argue with idiots…We are just trying to keep this whole thing peaceful and civil”. Weeks later he was lawbreaking and rioting in Washington D.C. This may be only a single anecdotal example, but it likely reflects that all of the problems that make up the riot are turning people into lawbreakers.