The US Justice Department said Friday that 15 people involved with Wednesday’s Capitol riot are facing criminal charges.
Ken Kohl, a federal prosecutor with the Washington US attorney’s office, said authorities did not expect to charge anyone with “incitement” or “insurrection” stemming from Wednesday’s violence. Most of these individuals were charged with illegal entry into restricted buildings of Congress and violent or disorderly conduct.
They were also charged with impeding government functions as the violence delayed the confirmation of the electoral votes from the 2020 presidential election, which was won by Democratic Party candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden.
“The lawless destruction of the US Capitol building was an attack against one of our nation’s greatest institutions,” said acting US Attorney Michael Sherwin in a statement.
“Just because you’ve left the DC region, you can still expect a knock on the door if we find out you were part of the criminal activity at the Capitol,” said Steven D’Antuono, FBI Washington Field Office’s assistant director in charge.
Among the 15 charged was West Virginia state lawmaker Derrick Evans, who livestreamed himself within the Capitol building. West Virginia broadcaster WSAZ showed footage earlier Friday of Evans reportedly being taken “into federal custody.”
John Bryan, an attorney for Evans, said in a statement that his client “engaged in no violence, no rioting, no destruction of property, and no illegal behavior.”
Richard Barnett, who was photographed in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, and later showed a letter that he took off of her desk, was charged with theft of stationery.
Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said images of Barnett with his boots on Pelosi’s desk were “repulsive.” He added, “those who are proven to have committed criminal acts during the storming of the Capitol will face justice.”
Also facing charges was Lonnie Coffman of Alabama, who parked a truck near the Capitol that contained 11 Molotov cocktails and firearms.
Kohl said the charges announced on Friday were on the federal level and could carry a strong punishment.
Another 40 people were facing lesser charges, such as curfew violations, weapons offenses and unlawful entry, in the local District of Columbia Superior Court. Many of those individuals were arraigned on Thursday and released with an order to stay out of the capital city unless it is for court appearances or meetings with their legal assistance.
There have been calls for US President Donald Trump, members of his family, and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to be charged with incitement for encouraging people to take action during a rally on the National Mall in front of the Capitol building.
Kohl said, “we don’t expect any charges of that nature.”
kbd/sms (AFP, Reuters)
United States charges 15 people over Capitol violence The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ Deutsche Welle.