Attorney General Karl A. Racine explains his legal action against groups such as the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers for their role in the U.S. Capitol insurrection on Dec. 14 on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol. (Abdullah Konte/The Washington Informer)

On Tuesday, D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine announced a first-of-its-kind civil lawsuit against groups including The Proud Boys and Oath Keepers and 31 other individuals for their role in the U.S. Capitol insurrection that took place earlier this year.

“On Jan. 6, organized violent actors and groups assaulted our country’s freedom and terrorized our community here in the District, threatening our safety of the more than 700,000 Americans — including children, families, teachers and businesses — who call the District home,” Racine said at a news conference on the Capitol grounds. 

“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,” he said. 

The lawsuit has been filed in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia. The attorney general plans to utilize the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, which allows people to be sued in civil court over civil rights violations. Specifically, the complaint based on the lawsuit said the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers and the 31 individuals charged caused extensive damage to the District and particularly to law enforcement officers who defended the Capitol and violated federal and District laws. 

The legal action seeks to recover damages the insurrectionists caused to the city, particularly the physical, mental and emotional injuries suffered by D.C. Metropolitan Police Department officers. Racine has received the pro bono outside counsel support of The States United Democracy Center, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the law firms of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP and Dechert LLP in this case.

Support Grows for Racine’s Lawsuit

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) said she appreciated Racine for initiating the lawsuit.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton speaks about the legal action being taken by the District of Columbia against the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers for their role in the U.S. Capitol insurrection on Dec. 14 on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol. (Abdullah Konte/The Washington Informer)

“In their work defending the Capitol on that day, D.C. and the Metropolitan Police, in particular, of course, incurred expenses,” said Norton, who joined Racine at the news conference. 

“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,” she said. 

D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) also supports Racine’s lawsuit, saying at the news conference that the attack on the Capitol had a nationwide impact but neighborhoods around the facility bear the brunt of the incident.

“The perpetrators intentionally created a situation that ultimately cost lives, endangered many more and profoundly impacted our national consciousness,” the council member said.

Allen told the Informer, during the time of the attack he received a number of texts from constituents who wanted to know the whereabouts of their loved ones and friends.

“Many people who work in that building are my constituents,” he said. “At one point, I had to tell a curious constituent who had gone over to the Capitol to see what was going on to go home, immediately.”

Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO and national director of the ADL, said his organization’s expertise in monitoring and helping to neutralize hate groups will be useful in Racine’s efforts.

“We have deep expertise when it comes to groups and individuals involved in the planning and execution of the Jan. 6 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,” Greenblatt said. “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 Jan. 6 is critically important to preventing another violent insurrection from happening in D.C. or in state capitols across the country.”

James Wright Jr.

James Wright Jr. is the D.C. political reporter for the Washington Informer Newspaper. He has worked for the Washington AFRO-American Newspaper as a reporter, city editor and freelance writer and The Washington...

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