A report released today by the George Washington University Program on Extremism reveals new information about the 257 people charged in federal court for playing a role in the Jan. 6 attack on the United States Capitol. The report, “This is Our House!” A Preliminary Assessment of the Capitol Hill Siege Participants,” also provides several recommendations aimed at combating domestic extremism.
The GW Program on Extremism tracked and categorized the people charged so far in the attack and the resulting report provides a preliminary assessment of the siege participants.
“The events of Jan. 6 may mark a watershed moment for domestic violent extremism in America,” Seamus Hughes, deputy director of the GW Program on Extremism, said. “Individuals came from all corners of our country, with a healthy mix of those with some operational planning and others taking advantage of the moment. This report identifies some clear steps we can take now to identify extremist groups and keep the public safe.”
Here are the key findings from the report:
- The 257 people charged in federal court so far represent a diverse group, including 221 men and 36 women. They came to the Capitol from 40 states and more than 90% traveled to Washington, D.C. from outside the Washington metro area. About 33 people had a military background, and of those, 36% had ties to extremist groups like the Proud Boys.
- People involved in the siege were found to fall into one of three categories: militant networks characterized by hierarchical organization and chains of command; organized clusters, especially groups of family and friends; and inspired believers.
- The participants in the attack came from more than 180 counties throughout the U.S., with the highest total cases by county coming from Los Angeles County in California, Franklin County in Ohio and Bucks County in Pennsylvania.
- The alleged perpetrators face as many as 17 counts on their indictments. The charges range from trespassing and illegal entry, to conspiracy against the U.S. government and assault of law enforcement officers.
- Social media played a big role in the evidence used to charge individuals. The report finds 15% of extremists publicly indicated their intent prior to storming the Capitol and 68% documented their crimes in real time.
The report also offers a series of recommendations aimed at learning more about domestic extremism and protecting the public. The authors urge Congress to establish a nonpartisan Domestic Extremism Commission to identify any systemic national security and policy failures. They also suggest that the intelligence community should learn more about the response leading up to the Jan. 6 attack, with the goal of finding concrete actions that could have been taken to prevent the violence. Finally, the authors recommend that the Biden Administration use existing structures to improve information sharing between the federal agencies tasked with combating violent extremism.