Three Percenters militia members charged in US Capitol attack

Washington – Federal prosecutors have charged six members of the Three Percenters right-wing militia group with conspiring to attack the US Capitol, the latest in a series of such charges arising from the January 6 riot by former President Donald Trump’s supporters.

The charges against the six men, all from California, were disclosed in an indictment unsealed on Thursday in federal court in Washington. Two of them, Alan Hostetter and Russell Taylor, were seen a day before the riot with Roger Stone, a friend and adviser to Trump, during a protest outside the US Supreme Court against the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

About 30 people ― including members of two other right-wing groups, The Oath Keepers and The Proud Boys ― have been accused of conspiracy, the most serious charges related to the riot. Those pending cases are the largest and most complex of the roughly 500 brought by the Justice Department since the attack.

The other Three Percenters charged were Eric Scott Warner, Felipe Antonio “Tony” Martinez, Derek Kinnison and Ronald Mele.

Founded in 2008, the Three Percenters is a loosely organized anti-government group that takes its name from the idea that only 3 per cent of American colonists took up arms against the British in the 18th century American Revolution.

According to the indictment, Hostetter founded a group in 2020 called the American Phoenix Project that protested restrictions on public gatherings imposed as a public health measure during the Covid-19 pandemic. That group became a platform to advocate violence against government leaders, according to the indictment.

Beginning in December 2020, the six men hatched a plan using the encrypted messaging app Telegram to bring weapons to Washington and storm the Capitol, according to the indictment. Prosecutors said the men selected January 6 because of a December 19 Trump Twitter post stating: “Big protest in DC on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”

Prosecutors said that on December 29 Taylor told his accused co-conspirators on Telegram: “I personally want to be on the front steps and be one of the first ones to breach the doors!”

Hostetter did not immediately respond to requests for comment and the names of defense counsel for the other five men were not immediately available.

The pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, interrupted the formal congressional certification of President Joe Biden’s election victory, clashed with an overwhelmed police force, and invaded the House of Representatives and Senate chambers. The violence left five dead, including a police officer.

Trump granted a pardon to Stone in December, wiping away his conviction arising from a federal investigation that documented Russian interference in the 2016 US election. Stone did not immediately respond to a request for comment. ― Reuters

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