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Douglas Andrews / October 19, 2021

Was the January 6 Riot an Armed Insurrection?

As the detainees from the riot await their day in court, many are being held on dubious “weapons” charges.

The prevailing narrative of the January 6 riot is that it was an “armed insurrection.” Since that day, congressional Democrats and their media mouthpieces have clung desperately to this description, lest the American people begin to yawn at all the fuss they’re making over it. The FBI, unhelpfully, calls it an act of “domestic terrorism.”

Actually, the events of January 6 are more accurately described as a political protest that got out of hand.

In any case, it appears that the runaway favorite for weapon of choice among the detainees (at least insofar as journalist Byron York has been able to ascertain) was that age-old instrument of death and destruction, the flagpole. Yep, that’s the “weapon” that appears most often in York’s compilation of defendants and their devices. Interestingly, though, the actual flags that adorned those poles weren’t considered weapons, even though that cloth could easily be used to smother someone, or cut into strips and used to strangle people.

To be sure, a guy can do plenty of damage with a flagpole; it’s just not what we’d typically consider a weapon. Neither would we consider a crutch to be a weapon, but, again, in the hands of an angry rioter, it could give someone an awful headache. Same with a walking cane, a shield, a helmet, or a desk drawer, all of which are considered weapons according to the Department of Justice’s database of detainees.

Think about it: When a convict breaks out of prison, and we’re warned to consider him “armed and dangerous,” we tend to think that he’s got a gun rather than a flagpole or a crutch or a desk drawer. Anyway.

“At this moment,” York writes, “about 670 people have been charged, many of them with misdemeanors such as "Parading, Demonstrating, or Picketing in a Capitol Building.” But, yeah, the FBI calls it an act of domestic terrorism. York continues:

Of the cases involving weapons, there are four main charges: “Assaulting, Resisting, or Impeding Certain Officers Using a Dangerous Weapon”; “Entering and Remaining in a Restricted Building with a Deadly or Dangerous Weapon”; “Disorderly and Disruptive Conduct in a Restricted Building with a Deadly or Dangerous Weapon”; and “Engaging in Physical Violence in a Restricted Building with a Deadly or Dangerous Weapon.”

Among former President Donald Trump’s Flagpole Brigades, five individuals — Christopher Michael Alberts, Lonnie Leroy Coffman, Mark Sami Ibrahim, Cleveland Grover Meredith Jr., and Guy Wesley Reffitt — are charged with possessing firearms. But — and this is the key point of January 6 — none of them are charged with using them during the riot.

Remember: The only deadly force used on January 6 was used against the protesters. (For the record, the victim’s name was Ashli Babbitt, and the man who killed her was Capitol Police Lieutenant Michael Byrd.)

As for this “armed insurrection,” just 82 of those 670 who’ve been charged — just 12% of them — were hit with a weapons charge. Is 12% a large enough share to call it an “armed insurrection”? Further, when only five of those 670 — less than 1% of them — were found to be in possession of firearms, can we honestly call it an “armed insurrection”?

Answer: No.

Perhaps you missed it, but there was another riot in our nation’s capital recently, but you probably didn’t hear much about it. Why? Because the insurrectionists, according to The Washington Post, were hard-left “climate activists.”

In any case, these domestic non-terrorists stormed the U.S. Interior Department on Friday and clashed with police. Guards and security personnel sustained multiple injuries, some of which resulted in hospitalization. The leftists intended to “occupy” the Interior Department and attacked police lines blocking their way. Some of them had to be tased by police.

And yet, as our Mark Alexander notes, there’s no word yet on whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will set up a special commission to investigate this blatant attack on our democracy.

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