Sunday, January 10, 2021

"I Didn't Mean It, I Didn't Mean It!!!" Another LARPing Middle-Aged Pranksta Repents...,

newyorker |  In an interview, Brock confirmed that he was the man in the photos and videos. He denied that he held racist views and echoed Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud, saying that he derived his understanding of the matter principally from social media. He told me that he had gone to Washington, D.C., to demonstrate peacefully. “The President asked for his supporters to be there to attend, and I felt like it was important, because of how much I love this country, to actually be there,” he said. Brock added that he did not identify as part of any organized group and claimed that, despite the scenes of destruction that day, he had seen no violence. When he arrived at the Capitol, he said, he assumed he was welcome to enter the building.

Brock denied that he had entered Pelosi’s office suite, saying that he “stopped five to ten feet ahead of the sign” bearing her title that insurrectionists later tore down and brandished. However, in the ITV video, he appears to emerge from the suite. Brock said that he had worn tactical gear because “I didn’t want to get stabbed or hurt,” citing “B.L.M. and Antifa” as potential aggressors. He claimed that he had found the zip-tie handcuffs on the floor. “I wish I had not picked those up,” he told me. “My thought process there was I would pick them up and give them to an officer when I see one. . . . I didn’t do that because I had put them in my coat, and I honestly forgot about them.” He also said that he was opposed to vandalizing the building, and was dismayed when he learned of the extent of the destruction. “I know it looks menacing,” he told me. “That was not my intent.”

Legal experts said that people who breached the Capitol could face a range of criminal charges, from disorderly conduct to seditious conspiracy. “Presumably this person broke into Congress in order to stop or intimidate or interfere with the counting of the Electoral College certification, a fundamental feature of the peaceful transition of power in the United States,” Alan Rozenshtein, a professor of law at the University of Minnesota, said.

Brock, a fifty-three-year-old father of three who lives in an affluent suburb of Dallas, graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1989, with a major in international relations and affairs. In a LinkedIn profile that Brock recently deleted, he described himself as having served as a chief operations inspector and flight commander with the 706th Fighter Squadron, at one point leading more than two dozen pilots. Brock told me that he served in Afghanistan and, in a non-combat capacity, in Iraq, and that for his service he received three Meritorious Service Medals, six Air Medals, and three Aerial Achievement Medals. In a statement, Ann Stefanek, an Air Force spokesperson, said, “This individual is no longer serving in the Air Force Reserve. He retired in 2014. As a private citizen, the Air Force no longer has jurisdiction over him.” Brock now works for Hillwood Airways, a Texas-based private aviation company.

Brock’s family members and his friend said that his service in the Air Force was central to his identity. Several of Brock’s e-mail addresses and social-media accounts featured his call sign and military nickname, Torch. One family member said that Brock derived “this weird sense of power” from his time as a military pilot, along with a Manichean world view. “He used to tell me that I only saw the world in shades of gray, and that the world was black and white,” the other family member said. “He doesn’t understand the fallout and the people he’s hurting. And I can’t imagine what he was doing there with zip ties, or what he thought he was going to accomplish.”

slate  |   Call the zip ties by their correct name: The guys were carrying flex cuffs, the plastic double restraints often used by police in mass arrest situations. They walked through the Senate chamber with a sense of purpose. They were not dressed in silly costumes but kitted out in full paramilitary regalia: helmets, armor, camo, holsters with sidearms. At least one had a semi-automatic rifle and 11 Molotov cocktails. At least one, unlike nearly every other right-wing rioter photographed that day, wore a mask that obscured his face.

These are the same guys who, when the windows of the Capitol were broken and entry secured, went in first with what I’d call military-ish precision. They moved with purpose, to the offices of major figures like Nancy Pelosi and then to the Senate floor. What was that purpose? It wasn’t to pose for photos. It was to use those flex cuffs on someone.

In October, the FBI and state authorities charged 13 men with plotting to kidnap Gretchen Whitmer, the Democratic governor of Michigan. Members of that plot attended protests at the Michigan Capitol in April, real planners of violence mixing easily with those for whom guns are fun protest props. The plotters discussed a summary execution—“knock on the door,” one wrote in the group chat, “and when she answers it just cap her”—but settled on a kidnapping, pulled off while police were distracted by a nearby explosion. Think of that plot, as these men surely did, as a dress rehearsal for what the zip-tie guys wanted to accomplish at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.