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OC DA and LA FBI Work to Press Charges Against Capitol Attack Participants

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The OC District Attorney and LA FBI are aiding in state and federal efforts to press charges against participants of the pro-Trump protest and attack at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

In a press release, the OC DA said they have been working with state, federal and local organizations such as the OC Intelligence Assessment Center to rectify criminal activity.

“We will not allow the protections guaranteed by the First Amendment to be distorted in a misguided attempt to shield extremists and domestic terrorists who are hell-bent on inciting violence and destroying the ideals that make up the fabric of our American democracy,” the OC DA said in the press release

Investigations are being overseen by the Washington field office and “handled by a joined terrorism task force,” Laura Eimiller, a spokesperson for the FBI field office in LA, said to the New University. Prosecutions are being led by the federal attorney general, the OC DA told the New University. 

The FBI has already arrested seven people in California and searched the home of Huntington Beach resident Kristopher Martin, according to Eimiller and public records. Many of those arrested in California face charges ranging from violent entry to obstruction of an official hearing, records show

“We went [to the Capitol] to attack people,” Martin previously said in an online video. He later posted a live stream, apologizing for his language and adding, “I felt like all of us were getting our vote taken from us.”

Another OC resident who was at the Capitol spoke privately with the New University, describing most attendees as older and non-radical, saying the event was initially comparable to a tailgate party. “Being a black person there, I was curious what the demographics were like,” the anonymous attendee said. “I’d say 90% were hard-working Americans.”

Some Capitol attackers were dressed as if for a paintball war, wearing goggles or gas masks, according to the attendee. 

“I’m on alert and a flashbang goes off over my head — a huge boom,” the attendee said when rehashing tensions between Trump enthusiasts and police. “I thought they were going to start killing Americans.”

Capitol police were underprepared for the protest. According to the attendee, rioters could be seen scaling edifices and hopping barriers. Those on the frontlines would walk back with eyes blazing from mace sprayed by officers. 

“Everyone there felt like they were cheated and that Trump got more votes,” the attendee said.

However, the election was described as “the most secure in American history” in a press release by the Cyberspace Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), an agency which Trump signed into law in 2018 and which operates under the Department of Homeland Security.

Around nine Trump-appointed judges rejected his legal challenges over voter fraud leading up to Biden’s inauguration, according to the Washington Post.  

“This year they rigged the election. They rigged it like they never rigged it before,” Trump said at the Save America rally before the protest. “You have got to get your people to fight.”

Due to tumult at the Capitol, five people died, including Capitol police officer Brian D. Sicknick who was hospitalized after being beaten by rioters and collapsing. Around 56 officers were injured, D.C. Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee said during a news conference

“The situation shows the power of the media, old and new: from radio and TV to mobile and social media, technology is not neutral, it can lend itself to spreading false beliefs and to incite violence,” UCI professor Peter Krapp, a specialist in media studies, said. “Authoritarian regimes have used this aspect of propaganda for many decades.”

The OC DA told the New University that they had not yet received any cases to be reviewed for criminal prosecution. Meanwhile, the FBI is accepting tips from the public as they continue to make arrests across California and the rest of the country. 

Kallen Hittner is a City News Intern for the 2021 winter quarter. He can be reached at khittner@uci.edu.