A right-wing activist known for his unwavering support for former President Trump and urging Democrats to “walk away” from their party has been arrested for participating in the deadly Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6.
Brandon Straka, 43, has been charged with several crimes, including impeding a law enforcement officer during civil disorder and engaging in disorderly conduct with the intent to disturb a hearing before Congress.
The ex-New York City hairstylist and best known for starting the “WalkAway Campaign,” was also banned from American Airlines last year after refusing to wear a mask on a flight amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In a criminal complaint unsealed Monday, federal prosecutors say Straka posted several photos and videos during and after the riots.
Investigators were clued into Straka’s involvement when a tipster indicated he had posted a video on Twitter in which he shouted, “Go, Go!” near the entrance of the Capitol, according to court documents.
“Also—be embarrassed & hide if you need to- but I was there. 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,” he wrote in a Jan. 6 tweet.
The complaint also notes that the FBI received many tips about his involvement, including one from a relative, who said they saw a video of Straka on the “cusp” of entering the Capitol. The relative added that Straka can be heard saying, “We’re going in. We’re going in,” in a video later posted on Youtube with the title, “Straka attacking the Capitol on Jan 6th.”
In one of the many videos Straka posted on Twitter during the siege, the activist confessed: “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.”
As he is seen walking to the Capitol, Straka says in the video that he’d learned “patriots had entered the Capitol.”
“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 says, according to the complaint.
When Straka arrived at the Capitol, he said he saw “bursts of teargas coming out of the doors.”
“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,’” Straka says in the video, adding that another person “said something to the effect of it being a victory for us, we got what we wanted, they cleared Congress.”
“Despite Straka’s lengthy video claiming he was not directly involved in the riots, screenshots of his Twitter account show that he encouraged MAGA supporters to storm the Capitol,” reports The Daily Beast.
“Patriots at the Capitol – HOLD. THE. LINE!!!!” he wrote in on tweet. In another tweet, Straka added that he “arrived at the Capitol a few hours ago as Patriots were storming from all sides. I was quite close to entering myself as police began tear-gassing us from the door.”
“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,” Straka wrote in another post.