Within hours of Trump supporters storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in an attempt to interrupt the electoral vote count and upend the 2020 Presidential election results, conspiracy theories started bubbling up to dismiss reality. Some claimed that the rioters were members of Antifa and the Black Lives Matter movement disguised as Trump supporters. Others, including Tucker Carlson, have floated the theory that it was actually the FBI that organized and led the attack. Okay.
Well, the insurrectionists themselves are sick of other people getting credit for their work. According to a report from HuffPost, a number of people who were involved in the riot have taken to social media to make sure their failed effort to overthrow the government is properly attributed to them.
Jonathan Mellis, otherwise known as "Cowboy Screech" because he looks like Dustin Diamond's character from Saved By The Bell (plus, of course, a cowboy hat), was at the Capitol on Jan. 6 — and he's absolutely not ashamed of that fact. In one selfie video he took on the steps of the Capitol, Mellis shouted "We're banging on the god damn doors is what we're doing! Storming the fucking castle." In another video, he can reportedly be heard saying, "We are the good guys!" So, not a lot of ambiguity as to his attendance or his opinion on the insurrection, it would seem.
But is Mellis secretly an Antifa plant who is just doing all of this in an attempt to make Trump supporters look bad? Apparently not! According to HuffPost, Mellis took to Facebook after seeing the conspiracy theories floating around online in an attempt to correct the record. “Don’t you dare try to tell me that people are blaming this on antifa and BLM,” Mellis reportedly wrote. “We proudly take responsibility for storming the Castle. Antifa and BLM or [sic] too pussy … We are fighting for election integrity. They heard us.”
Mellis — who was charged with civil disorder, disorderly conduct, entering a restricted building or grounds, assaulting officers, and obstruction of justice — isn't the only insurrectionist who was too proud to let these theories take hold. As conservatives tried to spin fictions about how it couldn't have been their precious Trump supporters who did this and the whole thing a set up by the left, the rioters insisted, "No, really, we are Trump supporters, and we stormed the Capitol to try to stop the election."
Ryan Nichols, who has been charged with conspiracy, posted on Facebook one day after the insurrection took place that Antifa didn't storm the Capitol, as HuffPost reported. "Listen up: I hear so many reports of ‘Antifa’ was storming the capital [sic] building. Know that every single person who believes that narrative have been DUPED AGAIN!" he wrote. The post was included in his Justice Department's filing for an arrest warrant.
Lest you think only two rioters were proud enough to admit guilt for all to see, there were plenty more. “Okay all you conspiracy theorists don’t worry I loves yous all just setting the record straight. antifa did not take the capitol. That was Patriots," another rioter, Karl Dresch, wrote in Facebook post that was documented by the FBI and cited in charges made against him by the Department of Justice.
And Brandon Straka, an organizer of Stop the Steal rallies, wrote on Twitter on Jan. 6 that "It was not Antifa at the Capitol. It was freedom loving Patriots who were DESPERATE to fight for the final hope of our Republic because literally nobody cares about them. Everyone else can denounce them. I will not." That post — among several others in which Straka makes it clear that he and others who believed the election was stolen from Donald Trump had entered the Capitol building — was also captured by the FBI.
This trend has been going on for months. In March, NPR published an analysis of more than 280 people who had been charged in the insurrection attempt and found that the vast majority rejected the idea that Antifa was involved with the attack. But, much to the chagrin of those who forced their way into the Capitol, the false narrative seems to be sticking. According to a March 2021 Reuters/Ipsos poll, half of Republicans believe false claims about the attack, like the baseless idea that it was staged by left-wing protestors.
Unfortunately for those who stormed the Capitol at the encouragement of then-President Trump, it turns out they were little more than useful pawns. They were convinced they could change the election results and, when that failed, their efforts were quickly spun into a story that would save Trump and other Republicans from taking the blame. Now all they want is a little credit for their work.