Brandon Straka, a prominent Republican activist who founded the conservative #WalkAway from liberalism campaign walked into a world of trouble — and federal criminal charges — when he took part in the storming of the U.S. Capitol, federal prosecutors said.
Straka, 44, who helped organize the Stop the Steal movement and spoke at a rally held by backers of Donald Trump in Washington the day before the storming of the Capitol, was arrested on a felony charge of interfering with police during civil disorder, unlawful entry into a restricted building and disorderly conduct.
The activist claimed in a video that he saw “nobody committing any acts of violence,” and that he stopped at the steps when he saw “bursts of tear gas coming out of the doors,” according to a federal complaint. But another video showed he took a more active role, encouraging the crowd to overwhelm a Capitol police officer holding a riot shield, according to the complaint.
“Take it away from him!” he and others in the crowd yelled, according to the complaint. “Take the shield! … Take it! Take it!”
An FBI agent’s affidavit used to obtain a criminal complaint against Straka describes his role as an organizer of Stop the Steal and quotes his comments at the Jan. 5 rally held at Freedom Plaza.
FBI Special Agent Jeremy Desor said that videos revealed that during the riot, Straka was part of a crowd pushing toward a Capitol doorway. Desor says that as others tried to charge through the entrance, the activist shouted: “Go! Go!”
During his speech the day before the riot, Straka referred to the audience as “patriots” and referred repeatedly to a “revolution,” Desor said. Straka also told the attendees to “fight back” and added, “We are sending a message to the Democrats, we are not going away, you’ve got a problem!” the agent reported.
Court records show the criminal complaint against Straka was approved by a federal magistrate judge in Washington last Tuesday.