An Omaha man who was steps away from a U.S. Capitol entrance during the Jan. 6 siege urged others to take a police officer’s shield and pushed forward with the crowd, the FBI says.
FBI agents on Monday arrested Brandon Straka, 44, on a federal warrant related to the storming of the Capitol.
The FBI said Straka faces federal charges of:
Impeding a law enforcement officer during civil disorder;
Knowingly entering and remaining on restricted grounds without lawful authority and/or engaging in disorderly conduct within proximity to a restricted building to impede official functions; and
Engaging in disorderly conduct with intent to disturb a hearing before Congress.
Straka’s initial appearance in federal court will be Tuesday. He is being held at the Douglas County Jail.
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According to an eight-page federal complaint and affidavit:
Straka posted a 58-minute video on Jan. 7 describing the events from the day before.
“I literally just got home ... minutes ago from Washington, D.C.,” Straka said one minute into the video.
Straka said he was scheduled to be one of the speakers at the Capitol rally and learned while walking from the subway to the Capitol that “patriots had entered the Capitol.”
Straka said he was within 10 to 20 feet of the Capitol when tear gas came out of the door and a man told everyone to turn around. Straka said he left.
However, another eight-minute video that the FBI says was filmed by Straka showed him pushing forward with the crowd to get several feet from a Capitol entrance. “Go! Go!,” Straka yelled, according to the complaint. “We’re going in. They’re saying we’re going in. We’re going in. We’re going in. The people are going in.”
At the 3:45-minute mark in the video, a U.S. Capitol Police officer appears in front of the crowd, holding a protective shield in the air.
The FBI said Straka told the crowd, “Take it away from him,” then “Take the shield!” and as others were grabbing the shield, Straka said, “Take it! Take it!”
People in the crowd took the shield from the officer, who eventually was able to get it back and get away.
Straka moved closer to the entrance and was within a few feet of the doorway, according to that video. He turned the camera on himself and said, “They’re using gas. We’re being gassed right now.”
An FBI special agent noted that Straka was wearing the same hat, sunglasses and coat that he wore during a speech at a “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 5 at Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C.
At the 7:35-minute mark of the video, a man said, “We did our job ... we got our job done.” Then he said, “Let’s get out of here.”
The video ends with Straka on the top of the steps near the entrance to the Capitol but not inside.
The FBI found screenshots of at least five deleted tweets from Straka’s Twitter account where he told the people at the Capitol to “hold the line” and said he wouldn’t denounce them.
“Also—be embarrassed & hide if you need to—but I was there,” one tweet said. “It was not Antifa at the Capitol. It was freedom loving Patriots who were DESPERATE to fight for the final hope of our Republic because literally nobody cares about them. Everyone else can denounce them. I will not.”
In an October interview with The World-Herald, Straka said he left Nebraska for New York at age 22 because as a young gay man, he thought it would be easier to be himself and fit in with the political leanings of the big East Coast city.
Now in his 40s, Straka is a conservative activist. He said in the interview that he came to believe that the words and actions of Donald Trump were being distorted by news outlets to manipulate the public generally and specifically to convince minorities, women and LGBT people to oppose Trump before he was elected president in 2016.
Straka and U.S. Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., spoke in October at an Omaha rally as part of the #WalkAway campaign encouraging Democrats to leave their party.
Bacon, reached Monday, said he spoke at the event to make the case that Republicans must grow their party, and that includes reaching out to people who traditionally lean toward the Democratic Party.
“Obviously, I don’t condone what happened at the Capitol and condemned it clearly” on Jan. 6, he said, echoing previous comments to The World-Herald about the violence committed by the mob.
World-Herald Staff Writer Aaron Sanderford contributed to this report.
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