Six men in California, four of whom identify themselves as members of “Three Percent” militias, have been charged with conspiracy to block, announced the Ministry of Justice.
The indictment, which was not sealed Thursday, claims the group coordinated the trip to DC with a stated intention to “fight,” respecting President Trump’s call to protest the results of the presidential election. Some defendants had tactical equipment, and at least one, prosecutors said, carried a knife as he pushed past a police line on the Capitol grounds.
The case marks the first conspiracy charge filed against members of Three Percenters, an anti-government extremist group that, according to the Anti-Defamation League, stems from an inaccurate claim that only 3% of American colonists fought against the British during the Revolutionary War and compares today̵
They are the third militia or extremist group cited in a conspiracy case in connection with the Capitol uprising. Federal prosecutors have already done so16 alleged guardians of oaths in a single conspiracy case, and 15 alleged members or associate members of the proud boys have been charged in four separate conspiracy cases. The DOJ has previously accused at least four other insurgents, who they said were affiliated with the three percent.
The defendants, Alan Hostetter, 56, Russel Taylor, 40, Erik Warner, 45, Felipe Antonio “Tony” Martinez, 47, Derek Kinnison, 39, and Ronald Mele, 51, were charged with crimes involving conspiracy to prevent a official procedure, obstruction of an official procedure and other illegal entry costs.
The indictment – first reported by Seamus Hughes, director of George Washington University’s extremism program – also claims that at least four members of the group discussed plans to bring firearms and other weapons to Washington, but only charges one defendant, Taylor, with illegality. possession of a dangerous weapon, a knife, on Capitol grounds.
Taylor is the director of the U.S. Phoenix Project, a group founded by his now co-defendant Hostetter in the spring of 2020 to protest government-mandated pandemic restrictions.
Only one of the defendants, Warner, is alleged to have entered the Capitol building, though the other five are accused of joining rebels on the Upper West Terrace, aof the Capitol, where officers experienced some of the most brutal fighting.
Following the November presidential election, prosecutors claim that Hostetter used the U.S. Phoenix Project group to promote violence in response to the results. On November 27, 2020, Hostetter posted a video on the American Phoenix Project YouTube channel where he was promotingclaims that votes for then-President Trump had been “stolen.” He said: “Some people at the highest levels should be made an example of with an execution or two or three.”
In December, after Trump tweeted about the planned January 6 rally, noting that it “will be wild,” members of the group began planning. Taylor submitted a link to Mr. Trumps tweeted and asked the question “Who’s going there?”
Evidence outlined in the indictment suggests he went to Washington to target the Capitol. On December 29, Taylor posted on the encrypted messaging app Telegram: “I personally want to be at the forefront and be one of the first to break down the doors!”
On January 1, Taylor formed a group on the Telegram called “The California Patriots-DC Brigade.” All six defendants along with more than 30 other people joined.
In the chat, Taylor wrote: “Many of us have not met before and we are all ready and willing to fight.” He said the goal was “to organize a group of warriors who should have each other’s backs and ensure that no one will trample on our rights.”
Taylor asked team members to identify whether they had previous military or law enforcement experience, writing, “I assume you have some kind of weapon that you also carry with you and plates,” referring to body armor.
Prior to their trip to DC, prosecutors said the group used Telegram and other online platforms to discuss travel plans, consider what weapons to bring and establish radio channels to coordinate while on the Capitol. In several online discussions, members of the group referred veiled references to bringing weapons.
Hostetter texted Taylor that he would travel to DC on December 31 and asked if they could “join” the day before, “so you can give me your backpack,” he wrote, adding three “hatchets” – emojier.
“Oh, I have to pack it up,” Taylor replied. “Alan, are you bringing firearms?”
Hostetter replied, “NO NEVER (Instagram now monitors all text messages … this has been a public service announcement),” followed by three laughing emojis.
In a January 1 post, Kinnison wrote to the group that he planned to drive from California to DC, “because our luggage would be too heavy” to fly. He said he, Mele and Martinez planned to bring “lots of equipment”, including medical kits, radios, multiple cans of bear spray, knives, flags, goggles and helmets.
The group discussedcould be worn in DC – a city known for its strict firearms laws – and Taylor suggested bringing a hatchet, bat or a large metal flashlight.
“I think you can carry most fixed wings just not into government buildings,” Taylor said. “Something tells me though, if we are inside government buildings, it will not be at the top of our list.”
The group also discussed bringing firearms under the indictment, though no one has been charged with firearms violations. Kinnison wrote to his fellow conspirators asking if they would bring a “dirt” and “another long iron.” Mele wrote to the group: “The shorter the better. Mine will be able to stashes under the seat. I bring it. 18” barrel. “
Prosecutors said Kinnison sent a selfie-style photo showing him with a bandier of shotgun ammunition around his body, writing, “Got the bandolier.”
The group arrived in DC ahead of the Jan. 6 rally, and Taylor, as director of the U.S. Phoenix project, spoke at a separate meeting on Jan. 5 before the U.S. Supreme Court.
According to prosecutors, Taylor said in his speech: “I stand here on the streets with you despite a communist coup destined to take over America … We are free Americans and in these streets we will fight and we will bleed. before we allow our freedom to be taken from us. ”
Around 11:30 p.m. that evening, the indictment states that Taylor posted a photo on an encrypted messaging service that showed tools arranged on a bed: a khaki backpack, black record carrier vest, two hatches, a walkie-talkie radio, a stun gun, a helmet, scarf and knife. He wrote, “Get ready for tomorrow.”
Prosecutors allege that on January 6, Taylor was wearing a body armor vest, carrying a knife in his vest pocket and carrying a stun gun in his backpack. During Mr Trump’s speech this morning, prosecutors said Hostetter and Taylor stayed outside Ellipse’s safe area because they were carrying things that were not allowed inside under the Secret Service rules.
Later in the day, prosecutors said Hostetter and Taylor, still carrying his knife, joined rebels on the lower level of the Capitol West Terrace as they tried to push through a series of law enforcement officials. Taylor said, “Go ahead Americans!” He turned to the officers a few feet away from him and said, “Last chance boys. Move back!”
Taylor and Hostetter then allegedly pushed past the officers and onto the Upper West Terrace, and Taylor shouted to the other rebels, “Inside!” before moving towards the Capitol building. Taylor later texted others to say that even though he had “stormed the capital”, he did not enter the building because he “had weapons”.
Around. 18:15 Taylor posted on Telegram: “I pushed through traitors all day today. WE STORED THE CAPITAL!”
Later that evening, someone texted Taylor to ask him what should happen next. He replied, “Rebellion!”