Then-President Trump, following his loss in the 2020 presidential election, worked with white supremacists, violent extremist groups, and campaign supporters to violate the Ku Klux Klan Act, and commit acts of domestic terrorism in an unlawful effort to stay in power, alleges a civil rights lawsuit filed Thursday by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, on behalf of a diverse group of seven veteran U.S. Capitol Police officers.
The lawsuit names Donald J. Trump in his personal capacity, the Trump Campaign, Roger Stone, the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, and Stop the Steal as defendants, as well as other individuals and members of Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and the Three Percenters. The litigation, Smith et. al. v. Trump et. al. was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
“As this lawsuit makes clear, the Jan. 6 insurrection was not just an attack on individuals, but an attack on democracy itself. It was a blatant attempt to stifle the votes and voices of millions of Americans, particularly Black voters,” said Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “For months after the 2020 election had been officially called, former President Trump and his associates made coordinated and systematic attempts to lodge their false claims of election fraud, targeted toward major cities with significant populations of voters of color. The lies of this conspiracy intentionally energized white supremacists and violent extremist groups and actively encouraged them to coordinate the violent attack on the Capitol. These actions put our clients in harm’s way to defend the votes and voices the conspiracy was intended to silence.”
The seven plaintiffs collectively have over 150 years of service protecting Congress so that it can fulfill its constitutional responsibilities safely and openly. On Jan. 6, they endured hours of hand-to-hand combat as attackers spat on them, tear-gassed them, bear-sprayed them, beat them, tackled them, and hurled racial slurs and epithets at them. These courageous officers risked their lives to protect and defend our democracy that day, and they paid a high price. The plaintiffs and many of their colleagues have suffered significant physical, psychological, and emotional injuries that persist to this day.
The seven plaintiffs share this joint statement: “We joined the Capitol Police to uphold the law and protect the Capitol community. On Jan. 6 we tried to stop people from breaking the law and destroying our democracy. Since then our jobs and those of our colleagues have become infinitely more dangerous. We want to do what we can to make sure the people who did this are held accountable and that no one can do this again.”
The defendants, meanwhile, continue to glorify the attack and minimize the harm they caused, not only to the plaintiffs and other officers, but to the country as a whole. The lawsuit alleges, though, that Trump and the other defendants propagated false, inherently racist claims of election fraud and other lies to build a conspiracy that would culminate in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. They threatened and encouraged violence against political adversaries, elections officials, and members of Congress. And they directed thousands of incensed Trump supporters to march to the Capitol and fight. The result was a violent attempt to subvert the will of the electorate and disenfranchise the American people.
Defendants’ acts violated two provisions of the federal Ku Klux Klan Act, which forbids conspiracies to use force, intimidation, and threats to prevent federal officers from doing their jobs or to injure them in the course of their work. Their acts also amounted to politically motivated acts of domestic terrorism and incitement to riot, which violated the District of Columbia Bias-Related Crimes Act. The defendants also aided and abetted assault and battery on Capitol Police officers, in violation of D.C. law.
About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of voting rights, criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and hate crimes. For more information, please visit https://lawyerscommittee.org.