NJ Police On The Lookout On Jan. 6 Insurrection Anniversary

NEW JERSEY — Federal law enforcement officials are warning authorities in New Jersey that “threat actors” may exploit Thursday’s one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol insurrection by loyalists to Donald Trump who wanted to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election to the presidency.

The FBI, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Capitol Police and other police agencies told state and local officials in an intelligence assessment last week that election fraud conspiracy stories persisting among domestic violent extremists could motivate some to “promote or possibly commit violence.”

Thursday’s bulletin, first reported by CNN, advised state and local government officials to keep their eyes open on the anniversary of the insurrection but did not cite a current specific or credible threat.

Instead, authorities warned that “lone offenders,” rather than organized groups, are more likely to exploit the insurrection anniversary with actions against lawmakers or state and national capitals.

At the same time, a nationwide day of action is being planned to "remember the insurrection" and honor those who died, with several events planned in New Jersey. One takes place in South Orange from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Spiotta Park, 20-32 Village Plaza. Read more here: 'Rally To Protect Democracy' Planned In South Orange On Jan. 6

More than 200 candlelight vigils, including one in Morristown, will take place across the nation to remember the anniversary of last year's U.S. Capitol insurrection. Read more here: Candlelight Vigil In Morristown For Capitol Insurrection Jan. 6

For his part, Trump has canceled a Thursday news conference planned at his Mar-A-Lago golf club in Palm Beach, Florida. He reportedly planned to defend the rioters whose attack was the largest assault on the Capitol since it was destroyed by the British army in the War of 1812.

Four people died in the attack — a rioter shot by a Capitol police officer as she tried to break through a door to the House chamber, two from natural causes, and a fourth from amphetamine intoxication, according to the Washington, D.C., medical examiner.

In a statement Tuesday, Trump said he was calling off the event “in light of the total bias and dishonesty” of the House Select Committee investigating the attack on the Capitol and what role the former president may have played in it. Reiterating the baseless claim of election fraud, Trump said he would address “many of those important topics” at a Jan. 15 rally in Arizona.

The warning from federal law enforcement authorities comes as the United States remains at war with itself, with Americans angrily taking sides on issues from the 2020 election to the response to the coronavirus pandemic to racial justice. America hasn’t been this divided since the politically charged 1960s.

And it comes amid a worrying trend with polls showing Americans’ support for political violence against the government appears to be increasing. A new poll from The Washington Post-University of Maryland published Saturday shows that about 1 in 3 Americans believe violence like that displayed in the insurrection is justified in certain situations.

That’s the highest percentage of American adults saying violence is sometimes necessary to achieve political goals since various polls began asking the question more than a decade ago.

In 2010, only 16 percent of Americans said they thought political violence is sometimes necessary, and 23 percent of Americans supported it in 2015, according to polls by The New York Times and CBS News.

Another poll shows that fewer than half of Republicans think the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol was violent or very violent — despite its place in history as one of the worst days for violence against police officers since the 9/11 terror attacks.

One Capitol Police officer — New Jersey native Brian Sicknick — suffered strokes after rioters sprayed him with a chemical substance and died of natural causes the next day.

The two men who assaulted him, Julian Khater, of Pennsylvania, and George Tanios, of West Virginia, still await trial. Both men grew up in New Brunswick.

They have been charged with assault on a federal officer with dangerous weapon; conspiracy to injure an officer; civil disorder and obstructing or impeding any official proceeding; physical violence on restricted grounds, while carrying dangerous weapon, and resulting in significant bodily injury; violent entry and disorderly conduct, act of physical violence on capitol grounds. Read more here: Two Charged With Assault Against Officer In Capitol Riot Death

About 140 police officers from the Capitol Police and the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department were injured, some beaten with their own weapons in an attack one police officer described as “medieval” and another said was like a “trip to hell.”

Their injuries ranged from minor cuts, scrapes and bruises to concussions, rib fractures and burns. One officer lost the tip of his finger. Another suffered a mild heart attack. In the months following the attacks, four police officers who defended the Capitol have taken their lives, according to news reports.

The 6 in 10 Republicans who doubted the severity of the violence are in a distinct minority, according to The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll released Tuesday.

Overall, two-thirds of Americans described the Capitol siege as very or extremely violent.

The House Select Committee investigating the insurrection plans to make more of its findings public in the coming months as the former president’s allies persistently reject the idea that he helped instigate the attack. Recent polls show the difficulty of the Select Committee’s task — to convince the American public of the severity of the attack and that its conclusions are fact-based and credible.

The Defendants

So far, 705 people have been arrested. Among them:

  • More than 225 defendants have been charged with counts of assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers or employees, including over 75 individuals who have been charged with using a deadly or dangerous weapon or causing serious bodily injury to an officer.

  • Ten people have been arrested on a series of charges that relate to assaulting a member of the media, or destroying their equipment, on Jan. 6.

  • Approximately 640 defendants have been charged with entering or remaining in a restricted federal building or grounds, including:

    • More than 75 people charged with entering a restricted area with a dangerous or deadly weapon.

    • More than 45 people charged with destruction of government property, and over 30 defendants charged with theft of government property.

  • Some 275 people have been charged with corruptly obstructing, influencing, or impeding an official proceeding, or attempting to do so.

  • Approximately 40 defendants have been charged with conspiracy, either to obstruct a congressional proceeding, obstruct law enforcement during a civil disorder, conspiracy to injure an officer, or some combination of the three.

At least 165 people have pleaded guilty to a variety of federal charges — 145 of them to misdemeanor offenses, and 20 to felonies, including six people who assaulted police officers.

Seventy-one people have been sentenced — 31 to jail time, 18 to a period of home detention and others to probation without jail time.

The FBI is still seeking the public’s help to identify 350 people believed to have committed violence on the Capitol grounds, including 250 who are believed to have assaulted police officers.

The FBI also said it has 16 videos of suspects who are wanted in connection with violent assaults on federal officers, and one video of two suspects who are wanted regarding assaults on the media on Jan. 6. Anyone with tips about the identity of those people is asked to call 800-225-5324 or visit tips.fbi.gov.

In New Jersey, 25 people with New Jersey connections have been arrested. Of that group New Jersey residents who were charged, two have already pleaded guilty.

Rasha Abdul-Ragheb, of Bellmore, was sentenced to three years probation with two months home confinement and must pay $500 restitution after entering a guilty plea in August. She was charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct in a capitol building, among other charges.

Scott Fairlamb, of Stockholm, was sentenced to three years, five months in prison after pleading guilty to assaulting a member of the Metropolitan Police Department and obstructing an official proceeding. Read more here: NJ Capitol Rioter's Attorney Seeks Leniency In Sentencing

In addition to Khater and Tanios, 20 other people with New Jersey connections still face charges. Leonard Guthrie Jr,. of Lower Township, was among the first people arrested, according to nj.com. He is not listed in the federal database of those who have been charged.

The others still facing charges include:

  • Thomas Baranyi, a New Jersey resident who reportedly was next to Ashli Babbit when she fatally wounded by police, has been charged with disorderly or disruptive conduct.

  • James Breheny, of Little Ferry, is accused of storming the Capitol, making false statements to investigators, and attempting to delete evidence from his phone to avoid prosecution.

  • Mick Chan and Lawrence Dropkin, both of Newark, are charged with entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restrictive building or grounds; disorderly conduct in a capitol building; and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a capitol building.

  • Michael Gianos, of Marlton, is charged with entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.

  • Marcos Panayiotou, of Wrightstown, is charged with entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds; parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building; disorderly conduct in a Capitol building; and disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds.

  • Lawrence Stackhouse, of Gloucester Township, is charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds, and disorderly or disruptive conduct.

  • Timothy Hale-Cusanelli, an ex-Army reservist from Colts Neck who is described by co-workers as a known Nazi sympathizer, is charged with civil disorder; aiding and abetting; obstruction of an official proceeding; entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds; impeding ingress and egress in a restricted building; disorderly conduct in a capitol building; and parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a capitol building.

  • Stephanie Hazleton, of Medford, also known as Ayla Wolf, is charged with obstruction of an official proceeding; civil disorder; aiding and abetting; entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly conduct in a capitol building; and impeding passage through the capitol grounds or buildings.

  • Robert Petrosh Jr., of Hamilton Township (Atlantic County) is charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds. He was arrested after authorities received tips from his grandmother.

  • Shawn Price, of Rockaway Township, is charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority; knowingly engaging in disorderly or disruptive conduct in any restricted building or grounds; violent entry and disorderly conduct on capitol grounds; obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder; and obstruction of justice/congress obstruct, influence or impede any official proceeding or attempt to do so, or to aid, abet, counsel, command, or induce or procure the commission of that offense.

  • Christopher Joseph Quaglin, of North Brunswick, is accused of repeatedly assaulting multiple law enforcement officers guarding the Capitol by spraying them with a chemical irritant.

  • Donald Smith, employee at a UPS in Lawnside, has been charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, violent entry, and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building. Calling it the "best day of his life," Smith bragged about being in Nancy Pelosi's office, according to authorities.

  • Kurt Ezekiel Stecher, of Mantua Township, is charged with civil disorder, assault on a federal officer, knowingly engaging in physical violence against any person or property in any restricted building or grounds; violent entry or disorderly conduct; obstruct or impede passage, and engage in physical violence on capitol grounds; and obstruction of justice/congress.

  • Patrick Stedman, a self-described "dating strategist" from Haddonfield, is charged with unlawful entry of a restricted building and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds after he bragged about "storming the Capitol" and encouraged people to join him. He was later accused of engaging in an online fight with a man he believes reported his actions to the federal government.

  • Marisa Suarez, a former Monmouth County corrections officer who reportedly took an emergency holiday from work to attend the events, and friend Patricia Todisco were indicted earlier this month by a grand jury on five crimes, including knowingly entering a restricted building, violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and obstructing a proceeding. After her arrest, Suarez resigned from her position as a corrections officer that she had held since 2019.

  • Hector Emmanuel Vargas Santos, of Jersey City, is charged with entering and remaining in a restricted building; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building; violent entry and disorderly conduct in a capitol building; and parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a capitol building.

  • Philip Young, of Sewell, is charged with assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers or employees of the United States in the performance of their official duties; and obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder.

  • James Rahm, and James Rahm III are listed by the Justice Department as being from Philadelphia, the younger Rahm has an Atlantic City address, according to nj.com. The father claims he urinated in Nancy Pelosi's office.

Yet to be tried are members of the far-right nationalist group the Proud Boys and the militia group the Oath Keepers who are accused of plotting to interfere with the election certification.

Sixteen members of the Oath Keepers faced conspiracy charges after federal prosecutors said they coordinated and recruited participants on websites and social media sites in advance of the election certification, then traveled to Washington, D.C., with paramilitary gear including firearms, tactical vests with plates, helmets and radio equipment.

Four members of the Proud Boys have been similarly charged. A federal court judge ruled their conduct on Jan. 6 was not constitutionally protected by the First Amendment and ordered the trial against them to move forward.

In November, the House Select Committee subpoenaed Oath Keepers and Proud Boys members, as well as members of the obscure far-right paramilitary group known as the 1st Amendment Praetorian, or 1AP, to determine if pro-Trump groups planned for violence that day.

None of the members of the group, largely made up of Special Forces veterans and former intelligence officials, has been arrested, but 1AP members were among those outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, The New York Times reported.

Wider Damage To Democracy

The insurgency attempt failed in the sense that Joe Biden was inaugurated as the nation’s 46th president on Jan. 20. Still, concerns about the future of democracy persist as states pass laws ostensibly aimed at reducing voter fraud — something credible, nonpartisan organizations say without exception simply doesn’t exist on a substantive level — but in practice making it more difficult for people who have always faced barriers at the polls to vote.

Domestically, Trump’s run-up to and tenure in the White House, and the “big lie” about his claim to have won the 2020 election, have spilled into unrelated areas, eroding Americans’ trust in institutions such as the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration, vanguards in the fight against COVID-19.

Abroad, faith in America lags under the burden of the Jan. 6 insurrection, both in reputation among allies and the potential for exploitation by adversaries.

“Jan. 6 has had a material impact on the view of the United States from the rest of the world, I believe from allies and adversaries alike,” Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, told The Associated Press. “Allies look at it with concern and worry about the future of American democracy. Adversaries look at it, you know, more sort of rubbing their hands together and thinking, ‘How do we take advantage of this in one way or another?’ ”

Former Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Brian Harrell told CNN it’s “not surprising that domestic extremists are still fixated on January 6th events,” but “what should give us pause is how nation-state adversaries will use these types of events to create anxiety and fear amongst the American public.”

“Misinformation continues to be a ‘go-to’ tactic to rile up society,” he said, noting that some news outlets in Russia are promoting content about Trump and the anniversary of the insurrection.

DHS counterterrorism chief John Cohen said at an event last month at George Washington University that the agency is “more focused” in its analysis of various actor-related platforms.

“We are incorporating that understanding into security and law enforcement planning," he said.

In the Garden State, Gov. Phil Murphy issued his own remarks one year later:

"The scene that unfolded in our nation’s capital one year ago was one of the darkest in our country’s history," Murphy said in a Jan. 6, 2022 statement. "This was not a protest, but an act of domestic terrorism bent on overturning a free and fair election, shredding the tenets of our American values, and shattering the bedrock of our democracy."

"The riot shook the sacred principles of our political system that we hold so dear and which have made us an example for the world. Defiantly, Congress returned to complete their duty. Democracy won over baseless conspiracies," Murphy continued. "Over the last year, our nation has been tested in many ways and we have shown the true resiliency of the American spirit. But our democracy remains fragile, and forces continue to try to exploit our division. We must continue working together, both Democrats and Republicans, to advance as one nation.

"Tammy and I again offer our condolences to all those who suffered that day, and to the family of United States Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, a New Jersey native who gave his life protecting the Capitol from violent insurrection. Officer Sicknick dedicated his life to protecting the Constitution and, by extension, upholding our democracy, and we thank him for his service to our nation."

This article originally appeared on the Moorestown Patch