FBI seeks public's help in identifying Trump supporters who stormed U.S. Capitol

By Sarah N. Lynch WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The FBI sought the public's help in identifying the rioters who stormed the U.S.

Reuters January 08, 2021 00:14:27 IST
FBI seeks public's help in identifying Trump supporters who stormed U.S. Capitol

FBI seeks publics help in identifying Trump supporters who stormed US Capitol

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The FBI sought the public's help in identifying the rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol, as the Justice Department said on Thursday a policy adopted in the summer to consider sedition charges for anti-racism protesters would also apply in this case.

The first of about 70 people arrested after Wednesday's assault by President Donald Trump's supporters on the seat of the U.S. government were due in court on Thursday, with most facing initial charges of violating a curfew imposed to quell the unrest.

The assault forced members of Congress who were in the process of certifying President-elect Joe Biden's victory to evacuate the chambers for several hours.

The U.S. Capitol Police said they had arrested another 14 suspects in connection with the rioting, most charged with unlawful entry.

The Justice Department confirmed that a policy put in place urging federal prosecutors to consider "seditious conspiracy" charges for people involved in anti-racism protests would also apply to those who stormed the Capitol, smashing windows and stealing property.

Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen "continues his commitment to the charging considerations" spelled out in the summer memo laying out that policy, a Justice Department spokesman said in a statement on Thursday.

In a late-night news conference, Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee said most of the arrests were related to violations of Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser's curfew, and included people arrested on U.S. Capitol grounds.

Several others were arrested on charges related to carrying unlicensed or prohibited firearms.

A spokeswoman for the District of Columbia Superior Court told Reuters court appearances for the people who were arrested and not detained would not take place until March and April.

The FBI is taking the lead on an investigation into two pipe bombs that were recovered from the headquarters of the Republican and Democratic national committees.

D.C. police said the bombs were authentic, and also told reporters they had recovered a cooler from a vehicle on U.S. Capitol grounds that contained Molotov cocktails.

The FBI has asked the public to submit tips, including images and videos, to help agents identify people who were "actively instigating violence."

Mayor Bowser said police also intend to ask the public for help in identifying rioters, many of whom posed for photos inside the Capitol building and can be seen in videos on social media without masks.

While the number of people arrested is expected to grow, the initial number paled in comparison with the more than 300 people arrested by police following the June 1 protests in the District of Columbia related to the police killing of George Floyd.

In that incident, baton-swinging police and federal agents fired smoke canisters, flash-bang grenades and rubber bullets to drive protesters farther from the White House, enabling Trump to walk across Lafayette Square and hold up a Bible in front of historic St. John’s Church.

Law enforcement officers were severely criticized for being too aggressive at Lafayette Square. The Capitol Police are now facing questions about why they did not do more to secure the Capitol building.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Heather Timmons; Editing by Scott Malone, Jonathan Oatis and Sonya Hepinstall)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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