Florida democrat calls for investigation into state’s sizeable role in Capitol riots

·3 min read
Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the US Capitol in Washington DC on 6 January 2021 (AFP via Getty Images)
Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the US Capitol in Washington DC on 6 January 2021 (AFP via Getty Images)

A Florida Representative is calling for the state to hold a bipartisan commission to investigate the state’s links to the 6 January insurrection.

Charlie Crist, a Democrat, called for governor Ron DeSantis to implement the commission following reports that the state was tied for the most arrests following the riots, theSarasota Herald-Tribune reported.

A database from USA Today revealed that the state is matched with Texas with 47 individuals facing charges in each state respectively, the Herald-Tribune said.

More than 40 per cent right-wing militia group the Oath Keepers and a quarter of the Proud Boys arrested over the riots are also from Florida, the database also showed.

Mr Crist, a representative for Florida’s 13th congressional district, called the data “shameful” and has said that for the state’s “public safety” its government “needs to understand” why the frequency is so high.

"We need to know what to do to keep our state and our Democracy safe from these violent extremists," Mr Crist said on Friday.

On 6 January pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol in Washington in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election result following a Save America rally hosted by former President Donald Trump.

Five people died as a result of the violence and following an extensive operation carried out by the FBI 480 suspects have been arrested on a variety of charges including trespassing and assault of police.

However, Florida’s large number of arrests related to the attack has raised concern among Democrats about the rise of extremist beliefs and groups within the state.

The Herald-Tribune reported that experts have suggested a number of reasons as to why a high number of Floridians have been arrested.

Proximity to Washington, a pro-Trump population and refusal of top officials to condemn the former president’s misinformation surrounding the election is thought to be among the explanations.

Mr Desantis, the state’s governor, as recently as this week refused to directly answer whether he believed the election was rigged, WFLA reported.

The governor’s press secretary Christina Pushaw told the Herald-Tribune that Mr Crist’s proposal for a joint commission was "raw political opportunism."

Ms Pushaw said: "Any individuals who are found guilty of committing crimes should be held responsible for their own actions."

However, she claimed that “Mr Crist’s framing blames more than 20 million Floridians for the actions of a few, and that is simply unfair — and unserious."

The Independent has reached out to Mr DeSantis’ office for further comment.

Thirteenth Judicial Circuit State Attorney Andrew Warren has also called for a state commission into its link to the riots to prevent further such incidents.

“In the criminal justice and law enforcement community we need answers,” Mr Warren said on Friday, according to the Herald-Tribune.

The FBI is still hoping to pin down a number of suspects in relation to the 6 January riots, some of whom are wanted for violent assaults on federal law enforcement officers.

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