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Capitol riots: Who broke into the building?

By Reality Check team and BBC Monitoring

BBC News


image copyrightGetty Images

Who were the protesters that broke into buildings on Capitol Hill after attending a rally in support of Donald Trump?

Some were carrying symbols and flags strongly associated with particular ideas and factions, but in practice many of the members and their causes overlap.

QAnon among the protesters

Images show individuals associated with a range extreme and far-right groups and supporters of fringe online conspiracy theories, many of whom have long been active online and at pro-Trump rallies.

One of the most startling images, quickly shared across social media, shows a man dressed with a painted face, fur hat and horns, holding an American flag.

He’s been identified as Jake Angeli, a well-known supporter of the baseless conspiracy theory QAnon. He calls himself the QAnon Shaman.

image copyrightGetty Images

His social media presence shows him attending multiple QAnon events and posting YouTube videos about deep state conspiracies.

He was pictured in November making a speech in Phoenix, Arizona, about unproven claims the election was fraudulent.

His personal Facebook page is filled with images and memes relating to all sorts of extreme ideas and conspiracy theories.

The Proud Boys

Another group spotted at the storming of the Capitol were members of the far-right group Proud Boys.

The organisation was founded in 2016 and is anti-immigrant and all male. In the first US presidential debate President Trump in response to a question about white supremacists and militias said: “Proud Boys – stand back and stand by.”

image captionThe individual on the right is Nick Ochs, who describes himself as a “Proud Boy Elder”.

One of their members, Nick Ochs, tweeted a selfie inside the building saying “Hello from the Capital lol”. He also filmed a live stream inside.

We haven’t identified the individual standing on the left in the above image.

Mr Ochs profile on the messaging app Telegram describes himself as a “Proud Boy Elder from Hawaii.”

Online influencers

Individuals with large followings online were also spotted at the protests.

Among them was the social media personality Tim Gionet, who goes under the pseudonym “Baked Alaska”.

image copyrightTwitter

image captionTim Gionet, better known as “Baked Alaska”, livestreamed himself from the Capitol on Wednesday

His livestream from inside the Capitol posted on a niche streaming service was watched by thousands of people and showed him talking to other protesters.

A Trump supporter, Mr Gionet has made a name for himself as an internet troll.

YouTube banned his channel in October after he posted videos of himself harassing shop workers and refusing to wear a face-mask during the coronavirus pandemic.

Other platforms that have previously shut down his accounts include Twitter and PayPal.

Who wrote Nancy Pelosi a note?

A photo that went viral of a man who’d entered the office of senior Democrat politician Nancy Pelosi has been named as Richard Barnett from Arkansas.

image copyrightEPA

image captionRichard Barnett left a message for US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying “we will not back down”

Outside Capitol Hill buildings, he told the New York Times that he took an envelope from the speaker’s office and says left a note calling her an expletive.

That’s Richard “Bigo” Barnett, 60, from Gravette, Ak., showing off the personalized envelope he took from Speaker Pelosi’s office. He insisted he didn’t steal it — “I left a quarter on her desk.”

— Matthew Rosenberg (@AllMattNYT) January 6, 2021

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Reacting to the New York Times interview, Republican congressman Steve Womack said on Twitter: “I’m sickened to learn that the below actions were perpetrated by a constituent.”

Local media reports say Mr Barnett is involved in a group that supports gun rights, and that he was interviewed at a ‘Stop the Steal’ rally following the presidential election – a movement that refused to accept the Joe Biden’s victory and supports the president’s unsubstantiated claims of electoral fraud.

In the interview at the rally organised by ‘Engaged Patriots’ he said: “If you don’t like it, send somebody out to get me ’cause I ain’t going down easy.”

The group associated with Mr Barnett held a fundraiser in October with proceeds going towards body cameras for the local police department, according to the Westside Eagle Observer local paper.

Reporting by Jack Goodman, Christopher Giles, Olga Robinson and Shayan Sardarizadeh.

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