Three Percenters Charged With Conspiracy in Jan. 6 Attack
(Bloomberg) -- A group of men affiliated with the anti-government Three Percenter movement was charged with conspiring to block the electoral vote confirmation of President Joe Biden at the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6.
The Justice Department on Thursday unsealed charges against Alan Hostetter, 56; Russell Taylor, 40; Erik Scott Warner, 45; Felipe Antonio Martinez, 47; Derek Kinnison, 39; and Ronald Mele, 51. All six are from California.
The charges represent the first major conspiracy case to target members of the Three Percenters, an anti-government militia with local chapters across the country. The Justice Department has previously brought conspiracy charges against members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers who were involved in the siege of the Capitol.
According to the indictment, Hostetter is the founder of the American Phoenix Project, a group that was created to oppose government-mandated restrictions arising from the pandemic. He and the other defendants participated in a Telegram group chat designed to “organize a group of fighters to have each other’s backs” on Jan. 6, according to a message included in the indictment. The men also coordinated travel logistics in advance of Jan. 6, and joined the crowd of Donald Trump supporters that laid siege to the building.
The afternoon of the riot, according to the indictment, Taylor was carrying a knife in the front chest pocket of his vest. He allegedly urged on a group of rioters attempting to breach the Capitol, saying, “Move forward Americans.”
Before the attack, Kinnison, Martinez and Warner posed for a photograph in which they flashed a hand signal linked to the Three Percenters, and Kinnison wrote in a message that Mele was also involved in the group, prosecutors said. The indictment also quotes a message in which Hostetter notes that “only 3% of Americans actually fought in the War of Independence,” a reference to the origins of the Three Percenter name.
Some Three Percenters liken the present-day U.S. government to British authorities that infringed on civil liberties in the period leading up to the American Revolution, according to the indictment.
Prosecutors don’t say whether Taylor had explicit ties to the movement. Among the charges Taylor faces is unlawful possession of a dangerous weapon on Capitol grounds -- that being the knife.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether any of the six men have retained lawyers.
The case is U.S. v. Hostetter, 21-cr-392, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).
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