As people swarmed a United States Capitol Police officer, Brandon Straka, 44, of Omaha, yelled orders.
“Take it away from him. Take the shield!” Straka yells in a video from the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The crowd grabs the officer’s shield as Straka yells, “Take it! Take it!”
Straka, of Omaha, was arrested by the FBI on Jan. 25. His first court appearance is set for today, Jan. 26. Straka is currently in federal custody.
Straka faces federal charges including:
- impeding law enforcement officer during civil disorder;
- knowingly entering and remaining on restricted grounds without lawful authority and/or engaging in disorderly conduct within proximity to a restricted building to impede official functions; and
- engaging in disorderly conduct with intent to disturb a hearing before Congress.
In its affidavit, agents from the FBI say they identified Straka through videos of him as well as witness interviews. In one video, Straka approaches the U.S. Capitol, the mob already locked against police trying to protect the Capitol. Straka makes his way through the crowd until he’s face-to-face with a United States Capitol Police officer in riot gear, according to the FBI.
After Straka directs people to take the officer’s shield, he then says rioters are teargassed. Moments later people start to leave the steps of the Capitol and the video ends. The video does not show Straka inside the Capitol building.
During the investigation the FBI found several pieces of social media confirming Straka was at the Capitol.
“Also- be embarrassed & hide if you need to- but I was there,” one tweet from Straka on Jan. 6 read. “It was not Antifa at the Capitol. It was freedom loving Patriots who were DESPERATE to fight for the final hope of our Republic because literally nobody cares about them. Everyone else can denounce them. I will not.”
The next day he again confirmed he was present during the Capitol riots by making a 58-minute video telling his recollection of the day’s events and uploading it to Twitter, the FBI said.
Straka is described in the FBI affidavit as a “former liberal” who gravitated toward the politics of President Donald Trump and founded the WalkAway campaign, which encourages people to leave the Democratic Party.
Straka held a WalkAway rally in October in Omaha at Memorial Park which included a speech from U.S. Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb. Bacon told the World-Herald on Jan. 25 he spoke at the event but condemned the riots on Jan. 6.
Straka told the World-Herald he left Nebraska at age 22 for New York. Growing up in the ’80s and ’90s, Straka said he was bullied in his small town for being gay. He thought he’d find a better home in the liberal-leaning East Coast. But Straka said he heavily resonated with Trump’s politics and found Democrats and the media were distorting the facts and pitting minority and LGBT communities against the Republican Party.
In addition to his WalkAway appearance in October, Straka was also a speaker at the Jan. 5 “Stop the Steal Rally” in Washington D.C. During his five-minute speech, Straka talks of “patriots” in a “revolution” and the need to “fight back.”
“We are sending a message to the Democrats,” he told the audience, “we are not going away, you’ve got a problem!”
The FBI has arrested 101 people in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection. Straka is the first person listed from Nebraska.