In this Jan. 6, 2021, photo, Proud Boys members Zachary Rehl, left, and Ethan Nordean, left, walk toward the U.S. Capitol in Washington, in support of President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
The D.C. attorney general is suing the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys for damages for allegedly “planning, promoting, and participating in” the Jan. 6 attack on Congress, he announced Tuesday. It’s the first lawsuit from a federal agency against those who allegedly led the attack. “Scores of officers required emergency medical treatment and continue to receive physical and mental health treatment today as a result of physical injuries and trauma that in many cases will last a lifetime,” D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine said Tuesday in a press conference in front of the U.S. Capitol. “We will, through this lawsuit, seek to impose severe financial penalties on the organizations and individuals responsible.”
The lawsuit names both Proud Boys International LLC, the Oath Keepers, and 30 members of the two groups, including well-known Proud Boys Enrique Tarrio, Dominic Pezzola, and Ethan Nordean. The lawsuit aims to use the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, a law that helped cripple the KKK’s initial rise after the Civil War.A similar lawsuit was used against the organizers of the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Earlier this month, a jury returned a $26 million verdict against that rally’s white supremacist organizers.Racine is working with the Anti-Defamation League and States United Democracy Center, two nonprofit groups, to push the lawsuit forward.“The images of that shameful and contemptible day can never be erased. It was, like 9/11, a planned terrorist attack, but this time our own citizens were hellbent on destroying the freedoms and ideals on which our country was founded,” Racine continued Tuesday.Almost all of the named defendants in the lawsuits are already facing criminal charges relating to the Jan. 6 attack on Congress.Interestingly, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes isn’t named as a defendant in the lawsuit. He was at the Capitol on Jan. 6 (though it’s unclear if he ever entered the building). On the other hand, Proud Boy Chairman Tarrio, who is named as a defendant, was not present in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6, as he was arrested two days earlier on his way into the city.Rhodes has also not been named as a defendant in criminal cases, though he has reportedly been referred to as “person one” in many other legal filings against alleged Oath Keepers.Tess Owen contributed to this report.Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.