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The Guardian - US
The Guardian - US
Lauren Aratani

Man who allegedly rammed Trump sign at police on January 6 arrested by FBI

Trump supporters clash with police on January 6
Trump supporters clash with police on January 6. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty

The FBI has arrested a South Dakota man on charges that he stood among the first participants in the January 6 insurrection, allegedly breaking police lines and ramming a large sign toward officers during the riot.

William Knight, 37, of Rapid City, faces two felony charges of obstructing law enforcement and resisting or impeding officers, the justice department announced on Thursday. He also faces five misdemeanor charges, including engaging in violence on the day supporters of Donald Trump tried to derail certification of his defeat to Joe Biden in the 2020 election.

He was arrested by the FBI on Sunday and was expected to make his first appearance in court on Thursday.

Knight was featured prominently in several videos that were taken during the riot, helping the FBI build its case against him. Investigators were able to match Knight’s appearance in his videos to his state driver’s license, which prominently shows tattoos on his neck.

Prosecutors accuse Knight of being one of the first rioters to breach a restricted perimeter at the Capitol on January 6. Multiple times, he gestured aggressively and threateningly toward officers. He broke police lines and was sprayed with a chemical spray at one point, but he kept pursuing officers, prosecutors say.

“We ain’t leaving! We ain’t going nowhere!” Knight could be heard yelling at police in one of the videos, according to court documents. “Here are the bitches. Here are the bitches.”

At one point, documents say, Knight and a large group of rioters picked up a giant metal-frame “TRUMP” sign and rammed it toward officers. After, he allegedly shoved a police officer and removed barriers that police had put in front of the crowd.

He allegedly continued to chant “Stop the steal!” with other protesters, referring to Trump’s lies that electoral fraudsters rigged Biden’s victory.

Knight’s case is being prosecuted by the US attorney’s office in Washington DC and the justice department.

Nearly 1,500 individuals have been charged in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the January 6 insurrection, according to the justice department. More than 100 of those people have been sent to prison for sentences ranging from a few days to 22 years, the length of the Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio’s sentence from last fall.

The US supreme court is expected to rule soon on whether the justice department can prosecute rioters on an obstruction statute.

A decision against the department could jeopardize the prosecution of hundreds of defendants who received obstruction charges.

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