Could the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers be about to follow in the footsteps of the Nazis recently hit with a $26 million verdict for their role in the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” violence? Washington, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine is suing the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers over their roles in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, using a statute originally targeting the Ku Klux Klan.
Racine is seeking “full restitution and recompense” for the District of Columbia’s costs in treating and providing leave for hundreds of injured officers. “I think the damages are substantial,” he told The Washington Post. “If it so happens that it bankrupts or puts these individuals and entities in financial peril, so be it.”
Can’t you just hear the sorrow in his voice at the prospect?
Racine’s suit includes both Proud Boys International LLC and Oath Keepers, plus dozens of their members, most of whom are already facing federal charges for the crimes they committed on Jan. 6. It’s not the first such lawsuit: Both Rep. Bennie Thompson—who is the chair of both the House Homeland Security Committee and the select committee investigating the attack—and a group of police officers who personally battled the insurrectionists have filed similar suits.
In addition to seeking financial damages, Racine is looking for information. “I’m particularly interested in understanding the financial apparatus of these individuals and entities and where the money came from,” he told the Post.
The lawsuit, though filed by the D.C. attorney general, comes with added legal firepower, including pro bono outside counsel from the States United Democracy Center, the Anti-Defamation League, and two law firms. It additionally draws on the voluminous Justice Department investigations and prosecutions of Oath Keepers and Proud Boys for their role in the attack on Congress. According to the lawsuit, the defendants conspired “to prevent, interrupt, hinder, and impede, through force, intimidation, and threat ... United States officials from discharging official duties of their offices and positions of trust as part of the formal process for counting and certifying the count of electoral votes for the 2020 presidential election and declaring a winner of the 2020 presidential election.”
Dozens of Oath Keepers and Proud Boys already face criminal charges that could lead to significant prison sentences. But finding out more about the financing of the two hate groups and weakening them financially or bankrupting them is an important goal to keep them from being the foot soldiers in the next Republican coup attempt.