UNITED STATES—On Monday, January 25, the FBI announced that Brandon Straka was arrested on charges related to the January 6 riot at the U.S Capitol. He is being charged with knowingly entering and remaining on restricted grounds without lawful authority, engaging in disorderly conduct with the intent to disturb a hearing before Congress, and obstructing law enforcement.
Straka, a self-described “former liberal” is the founder of the #WalkAway Campain, which “encourages and supports those on the Left to walk away from the divisive tenets endorsed and mandated by the Democratic Party of today,” according to the #WalkAway website.
“We are walking away from the lies, the false narratives, the fake news, the race-baiting, the victim narrative, the violence, the vandalism, the vitriol. We are walking away from a party driven by hate. We are walking toward patriotism and a new, unified America! We are the future of this great nation!”
According to the criminal complaint, on January 11, the FBI received a tip indicating that Straka posted a video on Twitter depicting a location near an entrance to the U.S. Capitol on January 6, in which he shouted, “Go, go.” On January 7, Straka posted a 58-minute video of himself discussing the events of January 6. Approximately one minute into the video Straka stated “I literally just got home…minutes ago from Washington, D.C.”
Later in the video, Straka stated, “Yesterday, a lot of us got up very, very early. We went to this event in which Donald Trump spoke. The plan was always to go to the Capitol. We were going to march from that event…to the Capitol, and there was going to be another rally. I was one of the speakers slated to speak at the Capitol.” Later in the video, he stated that on his walk from the metro to the U.S Capitol he had learned that people had “breached” the Capitol and that “patriots had entered the Capitol.” Straka said that he thought to himself, “Wow, so they’re going to basically storm and try to get into the chamber so that they can demand that we get the investigation that we want.”
He later described himself walking through a crowd of people up the stairs to the Capitol and stated that he saw “nothing being broken” and “nobody committing any acts of violence” or “vandalism.”
Straka stated he was approximately 20 feet from the building when he saw “bursts of teargas coming out of the doors.” He said, “Shortly after that, a man came out, he said, ‘They’ve cleared Congress. Everybody’s left. There’s no one else inside. Everybody turn around. No one else come inside.’” He further stated that the man “said something to the effect of it being a victory for us, we got what we wanted, they cleared Congress.” Straka stated that he left the Capitol shortly after this interaction.
The FBI received tips from the public with screenshots of Straka’s Twitter activity from January 6. One screenshot reveals that Straka made the comment “I’m completely confused. For 6-8 weeks everybody on the right has been saying ‘1776!’ & that if congress moves forward it will mean a revolution! So congress moves forward. Patriots storm the Capitol – now everybody is virtual signaling their embarrassment that this happened.”
The FBI received multiple tips referencing the video at the Capitol, including a tip from a relative of Straka, referred to as Witness-1 in the criminal complaint. In an interview with the FBI, Witness-1 stated that Straka posted a video of himself on the “cusp” of entering the Capitol and that he could be heard on video saying, “We’re going in. We’re going in.”
According to the criminal complaint, “STRAKA reached the top of the stairs, where he was behind a large crowd of people attempting to enter the U.S. Capitol through a single entrance. STRAKA began moving through the crowd of people to get closer to the entrance and asked, ‘Are people going in?’” STRAKA later asked somebody, “What’s the hold?” As the crowd in front of him tried to push their way into the entrance of the U.S. Capitol, STRAKA yelled, “Go! Go!'” It is also alleged that he instructed a crowd to steal an officer’s shield.
He remains in federal custody and has a federal court appearance scheduled for Tuesday, January 26.