D.C. Attorney General to Sue Proud Boys, Oath Keepers for Role in January 6 AssaultBreaking News
tags: far right, militias, Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, Capitol Riot, January 6
D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine (D) on Tuesday sued the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers over the Jan. 6 attack on Congress, seeking to use a law written to cripple the Ku Klux Klan to seek stiff financial penalties from the far-right groups that Racine alleges were responsible for the violence.
The lawsuit filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., cites the modern version of an 1871 law known as the Ku Klux Klan Act, which was enacted after the Civil War to safeguard government officials carrying out their duties and protect civil rights. Two similar suits have been filed already this year related to Jan. 6 — one by Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, and another by a number of police officers who fought the rioters that day.
Racine’s suit, however, is the first effort by a government agency to hold individuals and organizations civilly responsible for the violence at the U.S. Capitol on the day Congress ceremonially confirmed President Biden’s 2020 election victory.
An attorney representing two of the defendants criticized the lawsuit after it was filed Tuesday, saying it targeted the wrong people.
“You can’t file a fantasy in court,” said Jonathon Moseley, who represents Zachary Rehl, the president of the Philadelphia Proud Boys chapter, and Kelly Meggs, an Oath Keeper from Florida. “There were clearly violent people who assaulted police that day, but that wasn’t the Proud Boys or the Oath Keepers.”
A similar lawsuit led to a $26 million verdict last month against more than a dozen of the nation’s most influential white supremacists and hate groups for their role in the deadly 2017 United the Right rally in Charlottesville. That trial evidence drew heavily on the defendants’ text messages, social media posts and videos to reconstruct how they conspired in advance of the violence.
In the 1980s, a lawsuit drove an Alabama-based faction of the Klan into bankruptcy, forcing members to turn over their local headquarters to the family of a murdered Black man.
Racine’s suit names as defendants Proud Boys International LLC, Oath Keepers and dozens of their most high-profile members — mostly individuals who are charged in federal court with committing crimes related to Jan. 6. The goal is to unravel the financing behind the groups and secure “full restitution and recompense” for the city of Washington, which has incurred huge costs for treating hundreds of injured officers.
“I think the damages are substantial,” Racine said in an interview. “If it so happens that it bankrupts or puts these individuals and entities in financial peril, so be it.”