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Tuesday, May 21, 2024 | Back issues
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Turning on fellow Three Percenter, witness says Capitol rioter had guns, zip ties and plan

Guy Reffitt faced testimony from a former member of their extremist militia group who says they expected to physically drag lawmakers like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — who they believe is “evil incarnate” — out of the Capitol on Jan. 6.

WASHINGTON (CN) — A former member of a right-wing militia group testified Friday against the first Capitol rioter to go on trial for their attempt to overthrow the U.S. government last year, telling jurors that Guy Reffitt stormed the Capitol building armed with a gun and zip ties.

Rocky Hardie is the government’s sixth witness in proceedings that began earlier this week. He told jurors that it was a message Reffitt sent in an encrypted chat for their group, the Texas Three Percenters, that inspired him to march on the nation's capitol in protest of what might otherwise have been a peaceful exchange of power following President Donald Trump's election defeat.

“Stand and be counted,” Reffitt wrote on on Dec. 21, 2020. Two weeks later, they packed Reffitt’s Chevy Equinox in Texas with two handguns, two rifles and ammunition, then began the cross-country trip to Washington. They researched and discovered that the nation's capital does not have reciprocity laws for licenses to carry a concealed weapon, but they decided to bring the firearms anyways.

“I think we used the phrase: ‘It’s better to be tried by a jury of 12, than carried by six,’” he testified, adding that they “felt like nobody would ever know, that nobody would get hurt.”

During the drive to D.C., Hardie said they talked about “dragging” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who they believe is “evil incarnate," out of the Capitol along with other lawmakers.

Reffitt remarked at one point, according to the testimony, “no matter whether they’re Republicans or Democrats — they’re all corrupt — they need to be dragged out and replaced with people who are patriotic to the country.”

It seemed like they were joking around, Hardie said, adding that he “didn’t think he or anybody was going to get close to the Capitol.”

On the morning of Jan. 6, the pair reportedly drove from the Melrose Hotel to the Capitol and reassembled their rifles, which they left in the car. Hardie says he strapped his handgun in a shoulder holster and that he does not specifically recall seeing what Reffitt did with his gun, but that it would have been on his hip.

U.S. Attorney Risa Berkower asked why they felt the need to bring guns.

Hardie said they had safety concerns in light of the national racial justice protests in 2020 that turned violent at times.

“We were concerned for people in general and that’s based on things we saw on YouTube,” like “Antifa burning things down” and “throwing fire bombs at police officers,” he said.

Asked what would prompt them to use the guns, Hardie said, if “people were hurting other human beings, then we would use them.”

Hardie also said Reffitt gave him zip ties and told him they could be used in the event that they need to detain someone.

The pair got split up while marching to the Capitol, but they stayed in communication throughout the day using radios. 

When they met at their hotel after the riot, Hardie says Reffitt told him a female police officer had been launching pepper balls at him as he tried to get into the Capitol. Reffitt reportedly said he was eventually hit with pepper spray and couldn’t continue on, but that he “made it possible for other people to continue.”

Asked what he thought of Reffitt’s actions, Hardie said he “was pretty impressed that he did what he did. He had more courage than I did — I wasn’t going to go up there.”

Police say Reffitt charged at them during the riot, with a gun holstered on his waist, and later threatened his children if they turned him in to authorities.

During cross-examination, defense attorney William Welch tried to downplay the actions ascribed to Reffitt and said that his client rants, embellishes and exaggerates — a point Welch has been trying to highlight throughout the trial.

Welch also questioned Hardie about his partial immunity agreement with the government, which stipulates that his testimony cannot be used against him.

“You still haven’t been charged with a crime, correct?” Welch asked, noting that he has an upcoming business trip to Thailand.

Hardie acknowledged that he has not been charged and that it benefited him to cooperate with the government in an effort to avoid charges.

"Somebody in the government is going to decide: ‘Did I lie or did I not lie?" Hardie said.

U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich, a Trump appointee, is presiding over the trial. The jury is expected to start deliberating next week.

Reffitt has pleaded not guilty to the five charges against him: obstruction of an official proceeding, being unlawfully present on Capitol grounds while armed with a firearm, transporting firearms during a civil disorder, interfering with law enforcement officers during a civil disorder and obstruction of justice.

He is among more than 750 people who have been charged so far in connection with the Capitol attack.

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Categories / Criminal, Politics, Trials

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