Attorney General Karl Racine Credit: Darrow Montgomery/file

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The District of Columbia is suing the Capitol insurrectionists.

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine announced Tuesday that his office is filing a civil lawsuit against far-right groups the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers for their roles in the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Under the shadow of the Capitol, Racine said the lawsuit filed in federal court alleges that the two groups and more than 30 members of their leadership conspired “to terrorize the District of Columbia, for unlawfully interfering with our country’s peaceful transition of power, and for assaulting our men and women in blue, valiantly defended the Capitol, the District, and our freedoms.” Many of the perpetrators are already facing criminal charges, and the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers are already facing similar civil suits. Racine’s is the first filed by a government agency.

“January 6 was, to say the least, a brazen, violent, and deadly attack that traumatized this city, this community and our country,” Racine said. ”District of Columbia and its residents have chosen to speak truth through this filing.”

Racine was flanked by D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen. Norton was adamant about D.C. getting compensation for the costs associated with the insurrection. As former President Donald Trump withheld the National Guard for much of the attack, Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department were forced to defend the Capitol. The costs aren’t all financial, as many of the officers who responded are traumatized by the mob threatening to kill them. Four officers who responded that day have since died by suicide.

“From damage to police property to medical expenses related to the attack, perpetrators including Proud Boys and Oath Keepers must pay the District of Columbia,” Norton said.

Racine is bringing the suit under a modern version of the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, which was passed after the Civil War to protect the civil rights of Black people and was used to recoup $26 million from organizers of the Charlottesville Unite the Right Rally in 2017. Racine said they intend to use the law to bring as much “financial pain” on the groups as possible and potentially eliminate them entirely.

“If it so happens that we bankrupt them, then that’s a good day when hate is dispatched and eliminated,” he said. “They go running, they go hiding. They get decentralized, and frankly, they’re less dangerous.”

Norton added that the lawsuit will be used to recoup costs for D.C. but could also act as a deterrent for future violence.

“They’re going to have to spend money to defend themselves,” Norton said. “Even if we don’t get a penny in restitution, this lawsuit’s deterrent effect will say, ‘Be prepared to spend money to defend yourself because we are coming after you.’”

Bailey Vogt (tips? bvogt@washingtoncitypaper.com)

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