Brandon Straka: Trump rally speaker charged over Capitol riot

Louise Hall
·3 min read
<p>Brandon Straka, founder of the ‘WalkAway’ movement, attends a rally in support of Donald Trump near Trump Tower on 23 March, 2019</p> (Getty Images)

Brandon Straka, founder of the ‘WalkAway’ movement, attends a rally in support of Donald Trump near Trump Tower on 23 March, 2019

(Getty Images)

A conservative activist and speaker at a “Stop the Steal” rally held the day before pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol has been arrested for his alleged role in the insurrection on 6 January, reports say.

Brandon Straka, 44, of New York was taken into custody on Monday on a felony charge of interfering with police during civil disorder, and illegal entry and disorderly conduct on restricted Capitol grounds, The Washington Post reported.

Earlier this month, Trump supporters breached the Capitol as lawmakers gathered to certify Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 election, demanding the result be overturned.

The mob vandalised Capitol property and looted the building, smashing windows and ransacking offices, forcing lawmakers to evacuate and causing a delay to the certification.

Mr Straka appeared at a rally the day before the riot on 5 January at the Freedom Plaza in Washington, during which he addressed attendees “as 'Patriots' and referenced the 'revolution' multiple times,” charging papers reportedly say.

According to The Post, the FBI said Mr Straka "told the attendees to 'fight back' and ended by saying, 'We are sending a message to the Democrats, we are not going away, you've got a problem!'”

The 44-year-old has reportedly since claimed that he saw "nobody committing any acts of violence" or vandalism on 6 January and that the supporters were able to file into the Capitol.

An arrest warrant and affidavit filed on 20 January and made public on Tuesday referenced a witness and Facebook posts allegedly disproving those claims, The Post said.

The FBI affidavit reportedly said that Mr Straka recorded himself in front of a mobbed entrance to the Capitol, and was seen wearing the same coat as at the rally, and urged the crowd to take a riot shield from a police officer.

The founder of the WalkAway Campaign allegedly said: “Take it away from him… Take the shield!… Take it! Take it!,” the FBI affidavit said.

At another point, Mr Straka reportedly stood behind a crowd of people trying to force their way into the Capitol allegedly yelling, "Go! Go!" and saying, "I wanna try," the FBI said.

Information about an attorney for Mr Straka was not immediately available, The Post said.

Mr Straka previously made headlines in 2020 after he was removed from an American Airlines flight, after refusing to follow their guidelines.

He became a Fox News contributor after posting a viral video in May 2018 describing why he left the Democratic Party.

On Sunday, US counterterrorism and public-corruption prosecutors condemned the “chaos” of the riot in documents for one person who was arrested after he had been photographed with zip ties in his hand.

"Every person who was present without authority in the Capitol on 6 January contributed to the chaos of that day and the danger posed to law enforcement, the Vice President, Members of Congress, and the peaceful transfer of power," they reportedly said.

They added: “Make no mistake ... the imprint on this country's history of a militia clad insurrectionist standing over an occupied Senate chamber is indelible."

Five people died as a result of the violence on 6 January, including one Capitol Police officer who was beaten as he tried to ward off the crowds.

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