Meet the Rioters: Here’s Who Took Part in Trump’s Attempted Coup
There’s no evidence that the insurrectionist mob of domestic terrorists that invaded the U.S. Capitol at Donald Trump’s urging on Jan. 6 are anything other than longtime Trump supporters, Republican Party officials and political donors, white supremacists, current and former military and believers of the QAnon conspiracy theory.
Just hours after the last of the marauders had been cleared from the Capitol last week, Trump-loving GOP Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz said on the House floor, “Some of the people who breached the Capitol today were not Trump supporters. They were masquerading as Trump supporters and, in fact, were members of the violent terrorist group Antifa.” Other Republican officials and right wing commentators have made similar bogus claims.
But Steven D’Antuono, the assistant director who is in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office, said that investigators have seen “no indication” Antifa activists were disguised as Trump supporters in last Wednesday’s riot.
The Associated Press reviewed social media posts, voter registrations, court files and other public records for more than 120 people either facing criminal charges related to the Jan. 6 unrest. That review found that the crowd that converged on Washington did so specifically in response to Trump’s tweet the week before Christmas, “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”
So far, at least 90 people have been arrested. One of those is Lonnie Leroy Coffman, 70, an Alabama grandfather who drove to Washington to attend Trump’s “Save America Rally” in a red GMC Sierra pickup packed with an M4 assault rifle, multiple loaded magazines, three handguns and 11 Mason jars filled with homemade napalm, according to court filings.
The truck was found during a security sweep involving explosives-sniffing dogs after two pipe bombs were found and disarmed Wednesday near the national headquarters of the Republican and Democratic parties. Coffman was arrested that evening when he returned to the truck.
Also facing federal charges is Cleveland Grover Meredith Jr., a Georgia man who in the wake of the election had protested outside the home of Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, whom Trump had publicly blamed for his loss in the state. Meredith drove to Washington last week for the rally but arrived late, according to court filings that include expletive-laden texts.
“Headed to DC with a (s—-) ton of 5.56 armor-piercing ammo,” he texted friends and relatives on Jan. 6, adding a purple devil emoji, according to court filings. The following day, he texted to the group: “Thinking about heading over to Pelosi (C——’s) speech and putting a bullet in her noggin on Live TV.” He once again added a purple devil emoji, and wrote he might hit her with his truck instead. “I’m gonna run that (C—-) Pelosi over while she chews on her gums. … Dead (B——) Walking. I predict that within 12 days, many in our country will die.”
Meredith, who is white, then texted a photo of himself in blackface. “I’m gonna walk around DC FKG with people by yelling ‘Allahu ak Bar’ randomly.”
A participant in the text exchange provided screenshots to the FBI, who tracked Meredith to a Holiday Inn a short walk from the Capitol. They found a compact Tavor X95 assault rifle, a 9mm Glock 19 handgun and about 100 rounds of ammunition, according to court filings. The agents also seized a stash of THC edibles and a vial of injectable testosterone.
Today, as law enforcement agencies across the country continue to track down suspects, they’re also worried that another round of violent Trump supporters will again attempt to riot in Washington in the days leading up to or on the day of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20