Court Battles

DC attorney general sues far-right groups over Jan. 6 attack

Washington, D.C., Attorney General Karl Racine (D) on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit against far-right groups Proud Boys and Oath Keepers over their role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

The 84-page civil complaint, which also lists dozens of individuals, alleges violations of local D.C. and federal laws, including a statute stemming from the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act, which targets violent conspiracies.

“The images of that shameful and contemptible day can never be erased,” Racine said at a press conference announcing the lawsuit. “It was like 9/11, a planned terrorist attack, but this time, our own citizens were hell bent on destroying the freedoms and ideals on which our country was founded, and continues to aspire to achieve.”

The lawsuit, filed in a Washington, D.C.-based federal court, seeks unspecified amounts of money damages from the defendants for what Racine described as “restitution and recompense” for the injuries inflicted in the attack.

“I can guarantee you that as we proceed, we are going to seek the maximum level of financial penalty,” Racine said in response to a question from a reporter.

The complaint follows similar litigation filed by a group of U.S. Capitol Police officers and another suit by the NAACP and Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.). Those lawsuits also drew upon the Ku Klux Klan Act, which makes it illegal to use force or threats to prevent federal officers from carrying out their official duties.

But whereas the previous suits named former President Trump and his close allies as defendants, the D.C. attorney general’s suit does not. Instead, it targets the two far-right groups and dozens of their top members, many of whom face federal criminal charges for their role in disrupting the nation’s peaceful transfer of power during the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection. 

Racine was joined at Tuesday’s press conference by Joanna Lydgate, who heads the States United Democracy Center, a non-partisan think tank that advocates for voting rights and other democratic institutions. 

“This case is about consequences and it’s about prevention,” she said. “And while some would like to act like we can just move on from the horrors of January 6th, that would be irresponsible and dangerous.”

–Updated at 1:02 p.m.

Tags Bennie Thompson Capitol breach Capitol riot D.C. Donald Trump jan. 6 Washington

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