Criminal Implications of the U.S. Capitol Riot
United States prosecutors have identified more than 170 people for potential criminal charges in connection with the violent riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 and expect the number to become hundreds more in the coming weeks as a massive nationwide manhunt for the rioters continues. The violence left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer. Steven D'Antuono, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington office, told reporters that the bureau has received more than 100,000 photographic and video tips from members of the public in the wake of the riots. FBI agents have also relied on airline passenger logs and videos of travelers to and from Washington to find potential suspects. Other arrests have been made with ease as some rioters posted on social media about their involvement in the riot.
Further, new details have emerged about how some of the rioters, or organizers of the assault, may have financed their operations have also been revealed by a crypto-currency data firm, Chainalysis. According to the firm, a number of far-right activists received hundreds of thousands of dollars in Bitcoin payments before the assault on the Capitol.
The charges from the riot range from simple curfew violations to disorderly conduct to more serious federal felonies related to theft, weapons possession, and conspiracy. According to federal criminal code, seditious conspiracy is an effort to conspire to overthrow the US government and is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Michael Sherwin, acting U.S attorney for the District of Columbia, said that law enforcement has relied on lesser charges to make arrests, and then will allow prosecutors to indict the rioters on more serious charges. Other state U.S Attorneys, including those in Minnesota, have also pledged to prosecute anyone who traveled from their state to take part in the riot.
As of January 19, the first conspiracy charge was filed against Thomas Caldwell and other members of an extremists group called the Oath Keepers. Caldwell is accused of organizing a group of eight to 10 people to participate in the Capitol riots and suggested to do the same at state capitols. Video footage shows Caldwell and others wearing military gear with Oath Keeper logos at the Capitol. On January 6, Caldwell allegedly sent a Facebook video from inside the Capitol with the caption "Us storming the castle. Please share." A later message allegedly sent by him said "We need to do this at the local level. Let’s storm the capitol in Ohio. Tell me when!" Caldwell and other members also face charges of destruction of government property and obstruction of official proceedings. Arrests from the riot include individuals with links to other extremist groups such as the Proud Boys and Three Percenters.
Some of the key people who have been charged so far include Richard Barnett, the man kicking his feet up on Nancy Pelosi's desk, who is charged with unlawfully entering a restricted with a lethal weapon, disorderly conduct, and theft of public property. Another man, Adam Johnson who was photographed carrying a lectern is charged with theft of government property, violent entry, and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. Klete Keller, a former two-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer has also been arrested. Jon Schaffer, guitarist from the band Iced Earth, allegedly sprayed Capitol police with bear spray and has been arrested for his involvement.
Security restrictions have been in place at state capitols throughout the country including the Minnesota State Capitol to prepare for possible protests surrounding President Joe Biden’s inauguration. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety is asking people who do not have a planned activity or business at the Capitol to consider visiting at another time, according to a news release. The DPS is asking people to report suspicious activity near the Capitol to 911.
Contact a Minnesota Criminal Attorney Today
If you believe that you may be accused of a criminal offense, or are already facing charges, you should enlist qualified legal representation as soon as possible. Contact a skilled attorney at the BK Law Group to schedule an initial consultation and learn more about your defense options.