This article purports to answer a question I’ve been wondering about since January 6: who were the rioters? But there are some curious gaps in the story.
Here’s the general description of the group charged with committing violations at the Capitol that day:
So far, only about 10% of those charged have been found to have ties to organised far right militias or other right-wing extremist groups.
“What we are dealing with here is not merely a mix of right-wing organisations, but a broader mass movement with violence at its core,” wrote Dr Robert Pape, director of the Chicago Project on Security & Threats.
Dr. Pape and the Project are affiliated with the University of Chicago, and I can’t find much about Pape’s politics. But I wondered two things: how he got access to the information on the arrested people, and what were they charged with?
I had previously read that there were thousands of people “storming” the Capitol, but this article says 800. That’s a group that could easily have been handled by a proper number of security people on duty, but we already know that despite warnings the security was very light that day.
Here’s how the subjects seem to have been chosen by Pape for study [emphasis mine]:
In recent weeks, our team of more than 20 researchers has been reviewing court documents and media coverage for information on the demographics, socioeconomic traits, and militant-group affiliations (if any) of everyone arrested by the FBI, Capitol Police, and Washington, D.C., police for offenses related to the January 6 insurrection. As of late last week, 235 people fell into that category, and the number is expected to grow.
Of these suspects, 193 have been charged with being inside the Capitol building or with breaking through barriers to enter the Capitol grounds. We focused our research on these 193.
So the people in the study were arrested for trespassing and for getting through some type of barrier, although we don’t know how permeable the barriers were or what they did to pass through them (did only some break them, for example, and the rest just followed?). The research does not mention any of them being charged with violence against Capitol Police. Not even broken windows, as far as I can see. Not spraying pepper spray. Those things aren’t listed, although there must be some people at the Capitol that day who were arrested for that sort of thing. But it seems to me that those are the ones who should interest us.
Other all-important data I was looking for wasn’t there either. For example, how many were merely arrested for trespassing? How many for breaking through barricades? Why isn’t that data there? Surely the researchers ought to have discovered those figures.
It appears from the study and the articles that everyone in that building, even if only arrested for trespassing, is assumed to have been intent on violence and trying to overthrow the government. The entire set of conclusions – these insurrectionists were just regular Trump supporters, so be afraid, be very afraid – is based on that idea. But the study doesn’t demonstrate it. It doesn’t even deal with it; it merely assumes it.