WASHINGTON, D.C. – Toledo Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur on Wednesday joined a group of U.S. Congress members in an NAACP lawsuit that seeks damages from former President Donald Trump, attorney Rudy Giuliani and the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers over their role in a Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill that temporarily kept Congress from recording electoral votes that awarded the presidency to Democrat Joe Biden.
The lawsuit accuses the defendants of violating the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act, which was passed to crack down on violence and intimidation against freed slaves. The lawsuit says Kaptur and the other plaintiffs suffered emotional harm during the attack on the U.S. Capitol, were “hindered and impeded” from discharging their official duties and were deprived of “the right to be free from intimidation and threats” while they were doing their jobs.
It seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages “to punish the defendants for engaging in a concerted and continuing course of unlawful conduct and to deter the defendants and others from engaging in similar unlawful conduct in the future.”
“The events of January 6 were no accident,” said a statement Kaptur issued through the NAACP. “There must be consequences for those who contributed to the coordinated attempt to overturn a free and fair election and harm our democracy. This lawsuit is an important step in repairing the damage that has been done, and I am pleased to join so many of my colleagues in this fight.”
A section of the lawsuit describes how Kaptur was watching the vote tally from a gallery when she saw law enforcement officers escort House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former Vice President Mike Pence off the House of Representatives floor, as “loud and unruly shouting and banging” erupted. Kaptur remained in the gallery, becoming “increasingly worried about the safety” of members and staff as she heard noises “that sounded like logs being pounded against the doors.”
“She grew increasingly eager to exit the Gallery, as she feared that hostile intruders might enter the House Chamber and put her safety at risk,” the lawsuit continues. It said her worries were heightened when a Capitol Police officer told them to don gas masks because tear gas had been discharged in the complex. She was eventually able to leave the gallery and go to a sub-basement, where she finally arrived “at a very crowded room where other members and their staffs sheltered.”
“After leaving threats to her physical safety, Rep. Kaptur grew concerned for her health, as she was directed to shelter in a room in which members could not remain socially distant and many refused to wear masks, as the CDC prescribed as the means to minimize the risk of contracting COVID-19,” the lawsuit says.
Kaptur was not among the three Democratic members of Congress who tested positive for the coronavirus after they were confined in close quarters with maskless colleagues. Two of the three – Washington’s Pramila Jayapal and New Jersey’s Bonnie Watson Coleman – were also listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
Other Democratic plaintiffs who joined the lawsuit on Wednesday were House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler of New York, California’s Karen Bass, Maxine Waters and Barbara Lee, Tennessee’s Steve Cohen, Georgia’s Hank Johnson Jr. and Texas’ Veronica Escobar. Mississippi’s Bennie Thompson was the original plaintiff in the lawsuit when it was first filed in February.
A statement the NAACP issued when the lawsuit was first filed said that Trump “needs to be held accountable for deliberately inciting and colluding with white supremacists to stage a coup, in his continuing efforts to disenfranchise African-American voters.
“The insurrection was the culmination of a carefully orchestrated, months-long plan to destroy democracy, to block the results of a fair and democratic election, and to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of African-American voters who cast valid ballots,” said the statement from NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson. “Since our founding, the NAACP has gone to the courthouse to put an end to actions that discriminate against African-American voters. We are now bringing this case to continue our work to protect our democracy and make sure nothing like what happened on January 6th ever happens again.”
After the initial lawsuit was filed in February, Trump adviser Jason Miller released a statement that said Trump didn’t “plan, produce or organize the Jan. 6 rally on the Ellipse” whose participants eventually stormed the Capitol.
“President Trump did not incite or conspire to incite any violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6,” Miller continued, noting that the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate acquitted him of inciting an insurrection after the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives impeached him over his role in the riot.
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