Attorney General Karl Racine says “too bad” if the costs of litigation force the right-wing defendants into bankruptcy or other financial peril.
Washington, D.C., Attorney General Karl Racine has added Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes to a lawsuit filed against participants in the January 6 riots outside the United States Capitol.
According to The Hill, Rhodes’ name was added to the complaint alongside five others.
Speaking to the media, Racine, a Democrat, said he hopes the courts can help deter wrongdoers from trying to sabotage American democracy.
“Over the last few months, we have learned more about the horrors of January 6—including more about how the leaders of the two groups behind the attack urged members to use violence to overturn the outcome of a lawful presidential election,” Racine said.
“The District, our democracy, and the brave law enforcement officers who risked their lives on Jan. 6 deserve justice,” Racine wrote on Twitter. “By prosecuting to the fullest, we hope to prevent an attack like this from ever happening again.”
POLITICO reports that, in addition to Rhodes, Racine added Oath Keepers members Edward Vallejo, Joseph Hackett, David Moerschel, and Brian Ulrich to the lawsuit, along with Proud Boys member Matthew Greene.
Greene recently pleaded guilty to participating in the protests and is now cooperating with prosecutors.
The Hill notes that Racine first filed the lawsuit in December, seeking to hold individuals and organizations associated with the riots accountable for their misconduct.
The lawsuit, adds The Hill, already named several far-right groups, including the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, as defendants.
The most recent additions to Racine’s complaint could reflect new evidence uncovered by federal prosecutors against members of both groups.
The lawsuit, notes POLITICO, is among the first that a state government has backed against multiple far-right organizations.
Racine has asked the courts to award financial damages under the Ku Klux Klan Act, a Reconstruction-era statute which prohibits private individuals, political organizations, and other entities from conspiring to violate civil rights.
The lawsuit also accuses the defendants of assault and intentional affliction of emotional distress.
“We are focused on using the law to the maximum extent possible,” Racine said, “to impose financial liability on those who planned and participated in the assault, and believe doing so will deter future illegal attacks.”
“If it so happens that it bankrupts or puts these individuals and entities in financial peril,” he said, “so be it.”
The Washington Post notes that the litigation is modeled after a lawsuit that secured a $26 million verdict in November against more than a dozen groups involved in the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.