Washington, DC sues Proud Boys and Oath Keepers over attack on U.S. Capitol

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The city of Washington, DC, sued right-wing groups the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers on Tuesday, seeking to recover the financial costs of the deadly Jan.6 attack on USCapitol and its aftermath.

The lawsuit seeks to hold accountable two groups that prosecutors say played a leading role in an assault on thousands of supporters of then-President Donald Trump aimed at preventing Congress from certifying the election victory of the Democrat Joe Biden.

District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine told reporters the defendants caused physical and financial damage to Washington and its residents, adding that the city would seek “severe” financial penalties against the defendants.

“Our intention … is to hold these violent gangsters and violent hate groups accountable and get every penny of damage we can,” he said at a press conference.

The lawsuit aims to recover the costs of deploying around 1,100 city police officers to support other police forces who have defended the Capitol against the attack, which it says is in the millions of dollars.

It also seeks to recover medical costs and subsequent paid leave for the more than 65 police officers injured in the assault and the more than 1,000 who have received therapy since.

The lawsuit also charges assault and battery against the two organizations, as well as 30 named and 50 unnamed people allegedly involved in the riot.

The trial opens another legal front against those accused of participating in the January 6 attack.

Four people died and hundreds were injured in the hour-long attack, and a policeman died the next day from injuries sustained while defending Congress. Since then, four officers who were on Capitol Hill have committed suicide.

Prosecutors have filed conspiracy charges against some members of the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, saying they planned the attack in advance and were in the vanguard of the assault.

In total, nearly 700 people face criminal charges arising from the event.

The lawsuit invokes the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, which allows people to sue for civil rights violations. The law has been used to target the Klan and other extremist groups – most recently last month, when a jury declared the organizers of a 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Responsible for 26 million dollars in damages.

The trial does not name Trump or former members of his administration as accused.

Members of Congress and several police officers who defended the Capitol have also filed separate lawsuits against the two groups, accusing them of conspiring with Trump to launch the attack.

It is not clear whether the two groups are able to defend themselves or whether the lawsuit will result in financial penalties. Lawyers defending several of those named in the lawsuit did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Racine and other district officials said they hoped it would also serve as a warning to deter similar behavior by other extremist groups.

“If we don’t get a dime in restitution, the deterrent effect of this lawsuit will say, ‘Be prepared to spend the money, because we’re suing you,'” said Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents the district at the House of Representatives.

(REUTERS)

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