Federal prosecutors filed a wide-ranging conspiracy indictment on Thursday accusing six California males stated to be linked to a radical gun rights motion referred to as the Three Percenters with plotting to assault the Capitol on Jan. 6, in the primary prices lodged towards anybody concerned with planning any of the political occasions held the week of the assault.
The 20-page indictment was additionally the primary to be introduced towards a gaggle of alleged Three Percenters, a loosely organized motion that takes its identify from the supposed 3 p.c of the U.S. colonial inhabitants that fought towards the British. The new prices, filed in Federal District Court in Washington, got here on the identical day that Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director, testified in entrance of a House committee that prosecutors have been pursuing further conspiracy prices towards among the rioters who stormed the Capitol.
Investigators have stated for months that a number of extremist teams have been concerned in the assault, however whereas the Three Percenters have been often talked about in court docket filings, most accused extremists have come from two different teams: the Oath Keepers militia and the far-right nationalist group the Proud Boys. The new prices may counsel that prosecutors have began to concentrate not solely to those that straight took half in the Capitol assault, but additionally to those that helped foment the assault.
The two high defendants in the indictment — Alan Hostetter, 56, a former police chief turned yoga teacher; and Russell Taylor, 40, a rich graphic designer with a style for pink Corvettes — have been already below scrutiny by the federal government after the F.B.I. raided their houses in January. Mr. Hostetter and Mr. Taylor have been leaders of a gaggle referred to as the American Phoenix Project, which was based to combat the “fear-based tyranny” of coronavirus-related restrictions. The group later embraced former President Donald J. Trump’s lies a few stolen election, and helped set up a well-attended rally exterior the Supreme Court on Jan. 5, the place the audio system included Roger J. Stone Jr., a former adviser to Mr. Trump.
Mr. Hostetter’s spouse, Kristine, a schoolteacher, additionally attracted nationwide consideration this yr after she attended “Stop the Steal” rallies in Washington, setting off a furor in their hometown, San Clemente, Calif., that prompted an investigation by the varsity board into whether or not she had attacked the Capitol. She was cleared by the district in March.
Yet regardless of the eye from legislation enforcement, the information media and neighbors in Orange County, neither Mr. Hostetter nor Mr. Taylor had been publicly linked to the Three Percenters earlier than they have been charged on Thursday.
Starting shortly after the election, the indictment stated, Mr. Hostetter used the American Phoenix Project “to advocate violence against certain groups and individuals that supported the 2020 election results.” At the top of November, for instance, he posted a video on the group’s YouTube channel in which he accused those that had not challenged the outcomes of committing treason. “Some people at the highest level,” he stated, “need to be made an example of with an execution or three.”
The following month, at a rally in Huntington Beach, Calif., Mr. Hostetter gave a speech repeating his dying threats towards those that doubted Mr. Trump had received. “Execution is the just punishment of the ringleaders of this coup,” the indictment quotes him as saying.
To plan their function in the Capitol assault, prosecutors say that Mr. Hostetter, Mr. Taylor and a few of their co-defendants — amongst them, Derek Kinnison, 39, Felipe Antonio Martinez, 47, and Erik Warner, 45 — used textual content messages, Facebook and the chatting app Telegram. More than 30 folks, the indictment notes, joined a Telegram group chat referred to as “California Patriots-DC Brigade,” a channel that Mr. Taylor described as being for “able bodied individuals that are going to DC on Jan. 6” and are “ready and willing to fight.”
On Jan. 1, prosecutors say, Mr. Taylor despatched out a message on the group chat asking its members to reveal whether or not they had any army or law-enforcement coaching. “I am assuming,” he wrote, “that you have some type of weaponry that you are bringing with you.”
That similar day, in his introductory put up to the group chat, Mr. Kinnison wrote that he, Mr. Martinez and Mr. Warner have been a part of “so cal 3%,” in accordance to the indictment. Prosecutors say Mr. Kinnison connected a photograph to the Telegram message of the three males flashing a Three Percenter hand sign.
The connection of Mr. Hostetter and Mr. Taylor to the Three Percenters appeared considerably extra tenuous. On Jan. 3, the indictment says, Mr. Hostetter posted a message on the American Phoenix Project’s Instagram account utilizing language related to the motion. “Only 3% of Americans actually fought in our War of Revolution,” he wrote. “There will likely be 3% of us again that will fully commit to this battle.”
Mr. Taylor’s lawyer, Dyke Huish, stated he had no information of any involvement by his shopper with the Three Percenters. “That is something I have never heard of,” he added, “even remotely.”
Mr. Hostetter and Mr. Taylor emerged final yr as rising star’s in Southern California’s resurgent far fight. Both seem to have been radicalized on the onset of the pandemic, and have helped lead a brand new era of right-wing extremists to come out of the seaside cities of Orange County, the place Richard M. Nixon turned an oceanside villa into his presidential getaway, and John Wayne saved his yacht, Wild Goose.
The space was a cradle of the fashionable American conservative motion and a few of its most virulently racist, anti-Semitic and paranoid offshoots, such because the John Birch Society in the Sixties and neo-Nazi and skinhead teams who flocked to its surf spots twenty years later.
Until final yr, Mr. Hostetter appeared very distant from that historical past. A former soldier and police chief, he landed in San Clemente practically a decade in the past and launched into a 3rd profession as a yoga guru who specialised in “sound healing” with gongs, Tibetan bowls and Aboriginal didgeridoos. He was conservative, in accordance to individuals who know him, however no extra so than many others in and round San Clemente.
Then got here the pandemic. He give up yoga, declared himself a “patriotic warrior” and based the American Phoenix Project. The group started organizing protests, and shortly attracted Mr. Taylor. Their checklist of enemies shortly grew to embrace Black Lives Matter protesters, and Mr. Hostetter at occasions appeared to embrace QAnon, the conspiratorial motion that falsely claims Mr. Trump was secretly battling devil-worshiping Democrats and worldwide financiers who abuse kids.
Prosecutors say Mr. Kinnison and his Three Percenter companions have been open about their affiliation with the motion and apparently made plans to convey firearms to Washington on Jan. 6. On Jan. 2, Mr. Kinnison despatched a textual content message to Mr. Warner, Mr. Martinez and one other co-defendant, Ronald Mele, 51, containing a photograph that confirmed him sporting a bandoleer of shotgun ammunition, in accordance to the indictment.
After Mr. Taylor spoke on the Supreme Court rally on Jan. 5 — “I am Russell Taylor and I am a free American” — prosecutors say he posted a video on an encrypted chatting app that confirmed an array of drugs on a mattress: a bulletproof vest, two hatchets, a walkie-talkie, a stun baton and a knife. The caption learn, “Now getting ready for tomorrow.”
Decked out in this tools, the indictment says, Mr. Taylor marched from Mr. Trump’s speech on Jan. 6 to the Capitol with Mr. Hostetter and somebody recognized solely as Person One. Mr. Kinnison and his group of Three Percenters, prosecutors say, approached the constructing individually and, not less than one in all them — Mr. Warner — entered by means of a damaged window.
Prosecutors don’t accuse Mr. Hostetter or Mr. Taylor of breaking into the Capitol, although they do allege that each males joined a mob of rioters on the constructing’s decrease west terrace who pushed by means of a line of legislation enforcement officers.
“I was pushing through traitors all day today,” Mr. Taylor wrote on a Telegram chat at 6:18 that night, prosecutors say. “WE STORMED THE CAPITOL! Freedom was fully demonstrated today!”