DC files civil suit seeking damages from Proud Boys, Oath Keepers for January 6 destruction

Suit is first by government agency seeking significant financial punishment

John Bowden
Tuesday 14 December 2021 19:18 GMT
An accused rioter on 6 January was allowed to enrol in the US Army months later, a report found
An accused rioter on 6 January was allowed to enrol in the US Army months later, a report found (AP)
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The attorney general of the District of Columbia filed a civil suit against dozens of members of the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and the organisations themselves as the effort to punish those responsible for the shocking violence and destruction ramps up.

While the House considers referring a second of former President Donald Trump’s closest aides for contempt of Congress after he ceased cooperation with the investigation into the Capitol riot, DC Attorney General Karl Racine announced on Tuesday that he would seek to force the former president’s supporters to pay for the damage they wrought on the nation’s capital.

“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, our democracy and particularly the brave men and women of our Metropolitan Police Department,” said Mr Racine on Twitter.

“Today, we’re holding these insurrectionists accountable for conspiring to terrorize the District by planning, promoting, and participating in the deadly attack on the Capitol. I’m seeking damages in this case and will keep working to ensure such an assault never happens again,” he continued.

The exact amount sought for damages has yet to be defined, and will be revealed at trial, according to court documents.

Mr Racine made clear, however, that he was hoping to inflict significant financial strain on the groups and individuals who have been identified as key players in the violence that unfolded on 6 January.

“If it so happens that we bankrupt them, then that’s a good day,” he told reporters at a news conference, adding: “Hit them in the pocket.”

He also drew a striking comparison between the storming of the Capitol and the destruction of the twin towers on 9/11, telling journalists: “It was like 9/11, a planned terrorist attack, but this time, our own citizens were hell bent on destroying the freedoms and ideals on which our country was founded”.

Members of the Proud Boys and Oathkeepers who were present on 6 January have taken different approaches to the federal charges pursued by prosecutors involved with the Justice Department’s massive effort to prosecute hundreds of riot participants. Some have pleaded guilty, accepting deals with the federal government and admitted to gathering weapons and other gear for the purpose of bringing it to the Capitol. Others have claimed that the weapons and tactical gear they brought were meant for use against supposed left-wing counterprotesters, who never materialised.

Mr Racine’s suit will play out as the congressional committee overseeing the January 6 investigation uncovers more about the planning of rallies outside Congress and the White House the day of the attack, and as some of the former president’s allies battle subpoenas and seek to hinder the committee’s probe.

No members of Mr Trump’s administration or circle of allies are named in Mr Racine’s suit, which also names 50 “John and Jane Does”, or unknown individuals also present for the riot and allegedly “planned, conspired to carry out, and executed the January 6th attack”.

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