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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

US Capitol riot: DC government sues Proud Boys, Oath Keepers

Several individual members of the Oath Keepers were accused of conspiring to block the congressional certification of Biden's victory.

By: Deutsche Welle |
December 15, 2021 12:27:05 pm
File photo of a member of the Proud Boys attending a "Let's Go Brandon Festival" rally, promoted by the Michigan Conservative Coalition and in opposition to US President Joe Biden in Michigan. (Reuters)

District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine on Tuesday announced a civil lawsuit against two extremist groups over their role in the January 6 attack on the US Capitol Hill.

The Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, along with more than 30 individuals who are associated with the groups, have been accused of “conspiring to terrorise the District of Columbia,” according to Racine.

“I’m suing the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, the first civil lawsuit by a government entity against the Jan. 6 insurrectionists. They caused extensive damage to the District (of Columbia, DC), our democracy and particularly the brave men and women of our Metropolitan Police Department,” Racine said on Twitter.

Racine went on to say: “I’m seeking damages in this case and will keep working to ensure such an assault never happens again.”

The January 6 riot

On January 6, hundreds of supporters of former US President Donald Trump stormed into the US Capitol in a bid to disrupt the confirmation of President Joe Biden’s victory.

Lawmakers were forced into hiding as protesters breached security.

In the chaos, five people were killed and many more were injured. A number of those who were arrested were identified as being involved with extremist groups.

Trump and his allies have been accused of inciting the rioters in a speech shortly before the violence broke out. Last week, a federal court of appeals ruled against Trump, who had tried to keep White House documents relating to the January 6 Capitol breach secret.

The three-judge panel rejected Trump’s claim that the documents were protected by executive privilege, saying they were in fact vital for an investigation into what led hundreds of people to attack the Capitol.

Several individual members of the Oath Keepers were accused of conspiring to block the congressional certification of Biden’s victory. At least one of them so far has pleaded guilty in a conspiracy case and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

Who are the Proud Boys?

The Proud Boys are categorised as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and a number of other civil rights organisations.

The group was established in 2016 by Canadian-British right-wing activist and Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes. He has since distanced himself from the group.

The Canadian group classifies the Proud Boys as a terrorist group.

The all-male organisation, which describes itself as a haven for “Western chauvinists,” holds a history of street violence against left-wing groups and activists.

Who are the Oath Keepers?

The Oath Keepers is a right-wing organisation formed in 2009 by army veteran Stuart Rhodes, shortly after the election of Barack Obama. The group seeks to uphold and defend its interpretation of the constitution.

Its name – the Oath Keepers – refers to the idea of taking an oath which law enforcement officials and members of the military undertake.

According to its leadership, the group is made up of current and former members of the military and law enforcement.

A core document the group follows is called the “Declaration of orders we will not obey.” These are 10 specific orders members of the group will refuse to obey. These include refusing to disarm American people, refusing to place Americans in detention camps and refusing to blockade US cities among other orders.

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