Oath Keepers Member: Capitol Riot Was Historic, Spontaneous | WGN 720 Radio

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Florida man who stormed the U.S. Capitol with other members of the far-right Pledge of Allegiance said Monday he believes they were participating in a historic “Bastille-type event” reminiscent of the French Revolution.

Graydon Young, a state witness in the sedition trial of Oath Keepers founder Stuart Rhodes and four of his associates, said he saw parallels between the mob that attacked the Capitol on January 6, 2021, and the French people who “rose up and resisted the kings.” . and tyrants” more than two centuries ago.

“People were obviously attacking the government and its functions,” Young said during his testimony in the fifth week of the trial.

Young, 57, of Englewood, Florida, was the first member of the Oath Keepers to plead guilty to conspiracy related to the attack on the Capitol. He was the second member of the group to testify for federal prosecutors at trial.

Rhodes, of Granbury, Texas, and four others are charged with a seditious conspiracy that authorities say was a plot to stop the peaceful transfer of presidential power from incumbent Republican President Donald Trump to Democrat Joe Biden, who won the 2020 election.

In June 2021, Young pleaded guilty to conspiring to obstruct a joint session of Congress to certify the Electoral College vote.

Attorney James Lee Bright, one of Rhodes’ attorneys, demanded that Young point to any evidence of a criminal conspiracy or an “apparent plan” for the Oath Keepers to attack the Capitol.

“It was implicit to me at the time,” Young said. “I didn’t directly say, ‘Let’s commit a crime,’ but I thought it was implied.”

“It was spontaneous,” Bright said.

“It was,” Young said.

The others on trial are Thomas Caldwell of Berryville, Va.; Kenneth Harrelson of Titusville, Florida; Jessica Watkins of Woodstock, Ohio; and Kelly Maggs of Dunnellon, Florida.

Jason Dolan was the first member of the Oath Keepers to testify at trial. Dolan, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy, said members of the group were prepared to use “any means necessary” on Jan. 6 to stop the certification of Biden’s election win.

After leaving the “Stop Theft” rally where Trump spoke on Jan. 6, Young said he and Maggs initially accompanied a relative of the speaker. But their “purpose” changed, Young said, when Maggs learned that the crowd had broken through the police barricades at the Capitol.

“We all knew there was going to be a historic event at the Capitol,” Young said.

Young was wearing a helmet and had a radio with him as he climbed the steps on the east side of the Capitol in military uniform with other oath keepers, according to court documents accompanying his guilty plea. Once inside the building, Young and others pushed past a line of police officers guarding the corridor that connects the Rotunda to the Senate, the filing said.

“We broke in and got inside,” Young later wrote on Facebook before deleting his account.

Young said he was scared and ashamed when he realized how much trouble he was in after the riot. He choked when the prosecutor asked him why he decided to cooperate with authorities.

“It’s really embarrassing,” he said.

Young, who served in the U.S. Navy Reserve for 11 years, said he was a Trump supporter who became “really crazy” about a steady diet of political videos on YouTube in 2020. Young’s sister in North Carolina told him about the Oath Keepers. He joined the group less than two months before Jan. 6, thinking “it might be an effective way to get involved.”

On December 20, 2020, Young posted a cryptic message to other Oath supporters saying “something more is needed” than marches and protests. When asked what he meant by this message, Young replied: “Something more effective and more powerful than just protests.”

Young believed Trump’s baseless claims about a stolen election, believed a “corrupt government” was responsible, and felt “desperation and hopelessness” as January 6 approached.

On Monday, jurors also heard testimony from a police officer who crossed paths with Oath Keepers at the Capitol during the riots. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn said none of the rioters offered him help during the confrontation, which was captured on video, undermining the defense’s contention that the Oath Keepers were trying to protect the officer from other rioters.

Justice Department prosecutor Alexandra Hughes asked Dan what rioters could have done to help him and other officers during the January 6, 2021, siege.

“Just leave the building,” Dunn said.

Dunn admitted to telling the FBI in May 2021 that he had allowed rioters in tactical gear to stand next to him as he guarded the stairwell. He said the interaction took place in the basement area of ​​the Capitol and he could not be sure if the rioters in front of him were Oath Keepers.

Jurors saw video of a separate encounter in which Dunn interacted with Oath Keepers in military gear near the stairs in the second-floor rotunda.

“I’m not letting you come here,” Dunn remembered saying in the Rotunda.

The video also shows Dunn telling rioters they want “all-out war” and injuring dozens of officers.

“You want to kill everybody,” Dunn said.

Dunn said he had not heard of the Oath Keepers until Jan. 6 and only later learned he had been in contact with members of the group.

More than 900 people have been charged with federal crimes for their behavior on January 6. Rhodes and his four accomplices are the first defendants in the Capitol riots to be tried on sedition charges.

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