States United to Serve as Pro Bono Counsel in the First Civil Lawsuit Filed by a Government Entity Against Proud Boys and Oath Keepers; Lawsuit Seeks Damages Caused by Violent & Deadly Attack
Washington, D.C. — Attorney General Karl A. Racine filed a federal lawsuit to hold the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and their leaders and members accountable for the role they played in planning and carrying out the deadly January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol and violating federal and District laws. The States United Democracy Center; ADL (the Anti-Defamation League); Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP; and Dechert LLP are serving as pro-bono outside counsel in the case.
The lawsuit — the first by a government entity against the January 6 insurrectionists — specifically claims that the groups and their leaders and members caused extensive damage to the District of Columbia, and particularly to the law enforcement officers who risked their lives to defend the Capitol and our democracy. The suit seeks to recover damages these insurrectionists caused to the District, particularly the physical and psychological injuries suffered by Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officers. Filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the lawsuit alleges that the insurrectionists participated in a coordinated, violent attack intended to interfere with the functioning of government and overturn a lawful election.
“Lawsuits like this have historically played a critical role in limiting the power of bad actors — just look at the history of cases against the Aryan Nation, the KKK, and the organizers of the Charlottesville demonstration in 2017. This landmark DC case addresses the threat the District faced on January 6th — from the violence targeting our democratic system to the physical attacks on the public safety officers who protect it,” said Ambassador Norm Eisen, Co-Chair of the States United Democracy Center and former White House Ethics Czar. “The events of January 6 were a knife thrust at the heart of the American democratic process. So, we are holding those who led and participated in the attack accountable by using the full weight of the justice system.”
“Safeguarding our democracy is a bipartisan issue. This work involves holding those who violate our democratic principles accountable for their actions,” said former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, Co-Chair of the States United Democracy Center. “We are grateful to Attorney General Karl Racine for his leadership on this issue. And we are honored to support this work to ensure that the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and their members and leaders face repercussions for the harm that they have caused to the District, our Republic, and especially to our public safety officers.”
States United CEO Joanna Lydgate on Tuesday joined Attorney General Racine, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), D.C. Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen, and ADL CEO & National Director Jonathan A. Greenblatt for a press conference at the House Triangle on the U.S. Capitol grounds to announce the lawsuit.
“On January 6, organized violent actors and groups assaulted our country’s freedom and terrorized our community here in the District, threatening the safety of the more than 700,000 Americans — including children, families, teachers, and businesses —who call the District home,” said Attorney General Racine. “Thankfully, the District’s brave law enforcement officers, many of whom were grievously injured by the violent mob, put their lives on the line and repelled the shocking attack on our Capitol. We are filing this lawsuit to hold accountable the groups and individuals who conspired to attack our freedom, brutalize our law enforcement officers, and terrorize our community. This suit is seeking substantial financial damages to obtain restitution and recompense to victims, including law enforcement officers, many of whom continue to suffer physical and mental trauma and the District itself. By seeking justice through this civil lawsuit, we will hit the organizers, planners, and participants in their wallets and purses in order to deter and dismantle their ability to strike again.”
“I want to express my appreciation to D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine for filing this important lawsuit,” said Congresswoman Norton. “While President Trump delayed sending the D.C. National Guard to the Capitol during the attack on January 6, the Metropolitan Police Department voluntarily responded, protecting the Capitol, Congress, and democracy itself. I was able to secure a $9.1 million federal payment to the District in an emergency supplemental appropriations bill that was signed into law in July to compensate D.C. for the direct costs of responding to the attack. It is appropriate that the perpetrators of the attack compensate D.C. for the other costs D.C. incurred that day, including for medical treatment and paid leave, which are outside the scope of the funding I was able to secure for the District. From damage to police property to medical expenses related to the attack, the perpetrators, including the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, must pay D.C. I strongly support and appreciate the filing of this lawsuit.”
“I applaud Attorney General Racine for filing this important lawsuit,” said Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone. “The domestic terrorists who stormed the Capitol and violently assaulted hundreds of brave law enforcement officers were stoked by groups promoting The Big Lie. Those of us who suffered physical and emotional harm trying to defend democracy will never forget, nor will we cease working to hold accountable everyone responsible for inciting the mob, wherever the evidence may lead.”
“I strongly support the work of Attorney General Racine to hold the insurrectionists accountable for carrying out a coordinated attack on not only our nation’s capital, but on our home, on our first responders, and on our residents,” said Councilmember Charles Allen. “The impact of January 6 was felt nationwide, but few Americans experienced it as personally as District residents. The perpetrators intentionally created a situation that ultimately cost lives, endangered many more, and profoundly impacted our national consciousness.”
“States United is proud to stand with Attorney General Karl Racine and our partners in government, law enforcement, and the legal community to hold perpetrators of the violent January 6th insurrection accountable,” said Joanna Lydgate, CEO of the States United Democracy Center and former Chief Deputy Attorney General of Massachusetts. “This case comes at a time when we are seeing a major increase in political violence in this country. Election lies and conspiracy theories helped fuel the insurrection — and those same lies pose a serious threat to our democracy today. But in America, we’re a nation of laws. There are consequences for stepping outside the bounds of our democracy — for trying to overturn the will of the American people, for attacking the public safety officers responsible for protecting it — and that’s what this case is about.”
“ADL has been at the forefront of strategically monitoring, exposing, and countering extremist threats from across the ideological spectrum for decades,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO and National Director of ADL (the Anti-Defamation League). “We have deep expertise when it comes to the groups and individuals involved in the planning and execution of the January 6th attack and are honored now to be putting that expertise at the service of the District of Columbia and the brave officers who were injured or killed as a result of that day. Those who perpetrated the attack will not readily abandon their convictions. Domestic extremists, like the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and others, continue to present a serious, credible, and dangerous threat to our democracy and to us all. Accountability for January 6th is critically important to preventing another violent insurrection from happening in D.C. or in state capitols across the country.”
About the States United Democracy Center
The States United Democracy Center is a nonpartisan organization advancing free, fair, and secure elections. We focus on connecting state officials, law enforcement leaders, and pro-democracy partners across America with the tools and expertise they need to safeguard our democracy. For more information, visit https://statesuniteddemocracy.org/.