Feds: Oath Keeper coordinated with Proud Boys before riot
A reputed leader in the Oath Keepers militia group discussed forming an “alliance” and coordinating plans with another extremist group, the Proud Boys, ahead of the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, according to new court papers.
The court filing — detailing messages from Kelly Meggs, described by authorities as the leader of the Florida chapter of the Oath Keepers — is the first time prosecutors have suggested that the members of the two far-right extremist groups were communicating with each other before coming to Washington.
Meggs is among 10 members and associates of the Oath Keepers charged with plotting to stop the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory. The case against those affiliated with the Oath Keepers is the largest conspiracy case brought by prosecutors so far in the attack.
Several members of the Proud Boys, who describe themselves as a politically incorrect men’s club for “Western chauvinists,” have also been charged with conspiring to obstruct Congress.
On Dec. 19, Meggs wrote in a Facebook message that he “organized an alliance” between the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys and Florida Three Percenters, an anti-government movement.
“We have decided to work together and shut this s–t down,” Meggs wrote, according to the document prosecutors filed late Tuesday urging the judge to keep Meggs locked up while he awaits trial.
Days later, Meggs wrote that the Oath Keepers would probably be guarding someone during the day, “but at night we have orchestrated a plan” with the Proud Boys.
“We are gonna march with them for a while then fall back to the back of the crowd and turn off. Then we will have the proud boys get in front of them the cops will get between antifa and proud boys. We will come in behind antifa and beat the hell out of them,” Meggs wrote, according to the filing.
In another message on Dec. 26, Meggs said he believed President Donald Trump would invoke the Insurrection Act.
“Then wait for the 6th when we are all in DC to insurrection,” Meggs wrote, authorities say.
Defense attorneys have argued that any discussions their clients had in the weeks leading up to Jan. 6 were about preparations to provide security at the rally before the riot or to protect the pro-Trump crowd from antifa activists they believed might attack them. They have denied that there was any plot to storm the Capitol or obstruct the certification of the Electoral College vote.
Authorities have said the Oath Keepers were “prepared to do whatever was necessary to stop the certification” but have conceded they do not have records in which someone explicitly says the plan was to breach the Capitol.
Meggs’ attorney argued in his request for pretrial release that despite the “inflammatory language” authorities have used, there is no evidence that Meggs committed any acts of violence or damaged government property.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta agreed to release from jail another defendant in the Oath Keepers conspiracy, Laura Steele of North Carolina, while she awaits trial. Mehta said there is no evidence Steele destroyed property, assaulted anyone at the Capitol or, unlike other defendants, was involved in recruiting or training ahead of the attack.
More than 300 people have been charged in connection to the riot. Authorities have said they believe at least 100 more could face charges.