A massive anti-democratic coalition broke into the U.S. Capitol building on Wednesday as Congress convened to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s election win. The group, ranging from far-right militias to violent conspiracy theorists, was the years-long culmination of an increasingly fascist bloc that has solidified in support of President Donald Trump.
Members of Congress were evacuated as the attack on the Capitol abruptly ended their session. But even if the identities of individuals who committed acts of violence—including gunfire—were still unclear, some of the extremists on hand for the chaos were well-known actors who had participated in violent confrontations across the country.
Tim Gionet, a white supremacist who goes by "Baked Alaska” online, was among a group that entered the Capitol. He and other Trump supporters went so far as to live-stream themselves sitting in congressional offices. Commenters’ on Gionet’s live stream called for murder, Southern Poverty Law Center reporter Hannah Gais noted.
Plenty of other far-right livestreamers also took part in the mayhem. The livestream channel “Angry Viking,” broadcast from inside the Capitol, where his stream solicited money from fans. The channel gained fame in Kentucky this summer when the titular “Angry Viking” Dylan Stevens held demonstrations in opposition to Black militias, who were protesting the police killing of Breonna Taylor.
Congressional staff reached out to YouTube in an attempt to shut down the stream and the channel’s video was briefly halted. But the account began streaming from the Capitol again immediately after its initial stream was shut down. As of publication, the stream was still live.
At least one neo-Nazi group suggested it had a presence at the Capitol. The fascist group NSC 131 (short for “National Socialist Club, Anti-Communist Action”) shared a picture of a member holding a sticker at the protest. Members had previously hyped the Wednesday rally online.
Derrick Evans, an anti-choice activist who was recently elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates, live-streamed himself entering the Capitol. Evans appeared to delete a Facebook video of himself inside the building, but kept videos of himself outside it.
Tayler Hansen, another anti-choice activist known for painting anti-abortion murals around Planned Parenthood clinics and clashing with Antifa in Portland, Oregon, appeared to be present at the scene of Wednesday's most gruesome and tragic incident. “A young woman was just shot in the neck right besides me in the Capitol Building,” he tweeted next to graphic footage of a woman suffering from a gunshot wound. D.C. police later confirmed someone died after being shot at the Capitol.
Conspiracy theories fueled the Wednesday attack, with President Donald Trump falsely claiming that he had lost the election due to voter fraud. Earlier in the day, he held a rally and urged his supporters to march on the Capitol. Some of those followers were adherents to other extreme theories, like QAnon, which falsely claims the president's enemies are Satantic child molesters.
One of them, Jake Angeli, is known as the “Q Shaman” for the ridiculous QAnon costumes he wears at demonstrations across the country. Angeli appeared on the Senate floor and posed at a desk in front of other men, who were wearing “Make America Great Again” hats.
Another man dressed in animal furs was identified as Aaron Mostofsky, the son of a Brooklyn Supreme Court judge. Mostofsky's brother (vice-president of the South Brooklyn Conservative Club) claimed to Gothamist that Mostofsky had done nothing wrong, and that he had only entered the Capitol because he had been "pushed inside."
Other politically-connected actors were accused of unlawfully entering the Capitol. Kristina Malimon, a leader of the Young Republicans of Oregon who reportedly helped organize a Trump boat protest in the state in August, was arrested on charges of unlawful entry and curfew violation.
A man pictured with his feet up at Nancy Pelosi's desk, Richard Barnett of Arkansas, wrote on Facebook that he was a “white nationalist” who was prepared to die violently, according to The Washington Post. The man pictured absconding with her podium was identified as Adam Johnson, 36, of Bradenton, Florida, according to the Bradenton Herald.
Attempts to reach Gionet, Stevens, Evans, Hansen, Angeli, Barnett, and Johnson for comment were not immediately successful.
Others who breached the building carried the Confederate flag, or Christian banners. Another wore a mask in the shape of Pepe the Frog (a meme beloved on the far-right) while carrying a flag for “Kekistan,” a 4chan meme modeled after the Nazi flag.
A group dressed in clothing denoting the Black Israelite extremist group arrived outside the Capitol wielding clubs, while just inside the building, a police officer took a selfie with a Trump supporter.
Members of the far-right paramilitary group the Proud Boys were prominent throughout demonstrations Tuesday night and Wednesday in Washington. Likewise, members of the anti-government group the Oath Keepers also walked around the grounds after attending Trump’s rally.
But members of Proud Boys, at least, appeared to eschew their typical uniforms, making it less clear whether they were among those who had entered the Capitol.
—With reporting by Adam Rawnsley, Will Sommer and Arya Hodjat