How our political leaders lost our trust…and how we enabled it.
A Pattern of Prosecution
The Left's Jan. 6 tactics are nothing new.
The January 6 protest at the Capitol has been transfigured by Democrat partisans into one of the most significant events in American history, “the worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War,” according to President Biden. Following the supposed day of eternal infamy, insider media and elected flunkies like Congressman Adam Schiff have hammered at the idea that the “Stop the Steal” protest was a coordinated attempt to overthrow the government, organized by neo-fascist and white supremacist insurrectionist groups including the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys.
The FBI has since acknowledged that there’s no evidence of such coordination or any insurrectionist plotting, though close to 700 protestors have been arrested, and dozens are being held without bail. The jailed protestors are those who either committed some act of violence, including breaking windows or scuffling with police, or are suspected of “conspiring” with others to invade the Capitol. The “conspiracy” allegations relate to communications between some of the suspects that they planned to enter the building, but the Justice Department does not maintain that there were any organized plans as to what they would do once they were inside. This is why, despite constant discussion of “insurrection,” no participant has been charged with treason, insurrection, sedition, or any other charge that would reflect the gravity of an attack on American democracy.
The hullaballoo and inflated rhetoric regarding the Capitol riot clearly serve the political purpose of maintaining the fiction that Donald Trump wants to overthrow the government and establish a personal dictatorship. Every Democrat running for office in a competitive race over the next three years will repeat the canard that his opponent supports violent suppression of civil rights, hates voting, and is associated with extremist groups.
An interesting prelude to the January 6 episode took place in October 2018 in New York City when the Proud Boys—a rightwing, multiethnic fraternal group founded locally by Gavin McInnes in 2016—held an event at the Metropolitan Republican Club on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The event, featuring a speech by McInnes, was targeted by Antifa, which vandalized the building the night before, breaking windows and spray-painting the door.
A note left at the scene by the Metropolitan Anarchist Coordinating Council warned, “the Metropolitan Republican Club chose to invite a hipster-fascist clown to dance for them, content to revel in their treachery against humanity… our attack is merely a beginning. We are not passive, we are not civil, and we will not apologize.”
Following the meeting at the club, the Proud Boys were directed by police to walk down Park Avenue to avoid confrontation with the anarchist protestors, who chanted “No Nazis, No KKK, no fascist U.S.A.!” But the police failed to stop Antifa from chasing the group, taunting them and hurling water bottles and other debris. Small fights broke out, lasting less than a minute. No serious injuries were reported.
The official response was swift. Elected officials at all levels condemned the Proud Boys as “white supremacists committing hate crimes in Manhattan,” according to then-councilman Rory Lancman. Letitia James, now state attorney general, called it “hate-fueled mob violence.” Then-governor Andrew Cuomo announced “Here’s a message from a Queens boy to the so-called ‘proud boys’—New York has zero tolerance for your BS.”
Police scrutinized video of the crowd leaving the event and wound up arresting ten people, charging them with various offenses. As with the January 6 riot, the videos were disseminated widely and viewers were invited to doxx participants, some of whom lost their jobs and suffered other consequences, despite not being involved in any fighting.
Of the arrestees, most pled guilty to avoid trial and receive lighter sentences, though two of them, Maxwell Hare and John Kinsman, took their cases to trial, where they lost and were sentenced to 4 years in prison.
The remarkable thing about this whole episode is that none of the alleged victims—the Antifa provocateurs who tried to disrupt the event—came forward to press charges or cooperate in any way with the police or the prosecution. Their identities remain totally unknown; the indictment refers to them as “Shaved Head,” “Pony Tail,” “Khaki”, and “Spiky Belt.” As a result, Hare and Kinsman were tried for “conspiracy to commit assault,” which is the most that prosecutors can do when there is no complainant.
The affray outside the Metropolitan Republican Club followed by the selective prosecution of members of the Proud Boys has helped support the argument that America is beset by violent right-wing extremists aching for race war. The hysterical reaction to a relatively minor event and the ensuing partisan nature of the criminal investigation established a pattern that we see being copied today.
The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.