Dozens Arrested And Charged For Role In Breaching U.S. Capitol
Written By Zaina Cummins
At least 13 people have been charged in federal court – and 40 others in local court – for their roles in breaching the Capitol, authorities said Friday.
Bay Area attorney David Lim once worked at the Capitol as a staff assistant to a congressman and is a former prosecutor in Alameda and Santa Clara counties as well as a defense lawyer.
“My heart just went out, really, to all the people who work there,” Lim said.
Lim said, “You could make an argument that everybody that went in there with the intent to disrupt the counting of electoral ballots is guilty of sedition.”
But he said in order to prove a serious crime like sedition, the U.S. attorney will have to show that the person acted with force.
“So I think one of the defenses is going to be, well my guy was the 50th person through the door, the police were standing there, sort of just let them in, he didn’t exert any force to get in,” Lim said.
But for now, federal prosecutors appear to be relying on more everyday statutes.
Lonnie Coffman of Alabama was charged after a search of his GMC pickup truck uncovered 11 molotov cocktails consisting of mason jars with melted styrofoam and gasoline, authorities said. The ATF said those items had the effect of napalm.
Richard Barnett, 60, of Arkansas, seen with his boots up on a desk in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, has been charged with entering and remaining on restricted grounds, violent entry and stealing an envelope from her office. Her staff says a laptop is also missing.
The death of Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick could also lead to criminal charges. He died of injuries after trying to stop the mob.
“If his death is caused or is determined to be a result of some sort of struggle that caused him to go into distress where he later then died, then certainly you’re looking at a possible homicide,” said Lim, who helped prosecute the Ghost Ship warehouse case in Oakland.
The FBI released images Friday of other people wanted in connection with the chaos.
In a statement, FBI Director Christopher Wray said, in part, “To be clear, what took place that day was not First Amendment-protected activity, but rather an affront on our democracy.”
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