D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine on Tuesday used a law originally written to take on the Ku Klux Klan to file a civil lawsuit against the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers over the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
“Jan. 6 was a brazen, violent and deadly attack that traumatized this city, this community, and our country,” Racine said in announcing the lawsuit.
He noted that it is the first civil lawsuit by a state or municipal government against the extremist groups for “conspiring to terrorize the District of Columbia, interfering in our country’s peaceful transition of power, and assaulting our men and women in blue.”
The lawsuit cites the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, a federal law created after the Civil War to protect civil rights and, as Racine noted, “to protect against vigilantes and insurrectionists.”
The 84-page lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., seeks “full restitution and recompense” for all of Washington. It names notable members of both the far-right extremist groups, including Enrique Tarrio, the now-disgraced former head of the Proud Boys, and Jessica Marie Watkins, an Oath Keeper from Ohio who has been charged with conspiring and recruiting others to storm the Capitol.
“I think the damages are substantial,” Racine told The Washington Post. “If it so happens that it bankrupts or puts these individuals and entities in financial peril, so be it.”
Two other lawsuits have already been filed against those accused of organizing the violence at the U.S. Capitol, but Racine’s is the first to be leveled against the far-right groups by a government agency. “I’m particularly interested in understanding the financial apparatus of these individuals and entities and where the money came from,” he told the Post.