Florida Still Leads Nation in Arrests Stemming from Jan. 6 US Capitol Riots

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By Giselle Balido

January 6, 2023

Two years after the deadly attack, the Sunshine State leads the nation in the number of residents arrested in connection with the insurrection that the country watched in disbelief.

On Jan. 6, 2021, President Trump delivered a speech at a rally with an incendiary request: that his supporters “peacefully” march to the US Capitol. But also, he said, that they be prepared to “fight like hell.” The reason for this unprecedented request was Trump’s refusal to admit defeat to President-elect Joe Biden, and to claim, with no evidence, that the election was fraudulent.

“We fight like hell,” said. “And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

These were the words that critics say spurred a mob of his supporters to march to the US Capitol, violently occupy the building, and suspend Electoral College deliberations, forcing Washington into lockdown for hours. After a tumultuous clash that many around the country watched in disbelief, the episode ended tragically. Five people, including a police officer, lost their lives.

Florida’s Role

Now, two years later, Jan. 6 continues to be a dark stain on the Sunshine State. That is because Florida is still No. 1 in the number of people arrested in connection with the Trump-inspired attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election. In fact, Florida leads the nation in the number of residents arrested in connection with the insurrection, according to a study conducted by George Washington University.

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Information from the US Department of Justice shows Florida was the home of nearly 100 of those charged in relation to the mutinous event. Some were as young as 20 and as old as 72. The frenzied mob that stormed the building included military veterans, businesspeople, and former political candidates. There was even a Michael Jackson impersonator. In fact, the man pictured carrying Nancy Pelosi’s lectern inside the Capitol is a Floridian. 

The Proud Boys, a far-right group that self-describes as “western chauvinist,” have been active in Florida for years, including at mainstream political events. Several Proud Boys from Florida were arrested in connection with Jan. 6. One of the most notable is Former US Army captain Gabriel Garcia, who is scheduled to stand trial on two felony counts and four misdemeanors for his role in the insurrection. He has pleaded not guilty. Four members of Oath Keepers, another radical group, are residents of Central Florida and face charges that include seditious conspiracy. 

Florida Politicians in Denial

During the culmination of a symbolic process in Congress, the electoral votes are formally read by the vice president, who then calls for objections before moving to the next state’s votes and finally declaring the winner.

At the time, Trump and his allies claimed that the election had been rigged. A dozen Republican senators and 120 Republican representatives announced their plans to object over what they claimed to be unconstitutional changes to election rules. This would invalidate millions of votes. An objection had been raised for the electoral votes from Arizona, another was raised for Pennsylvania.

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Those who objected to Biden’s electoral votes during the official Electoral College vote count included Sen. Rick Scott, who objected to the Pennsylvania votes. Reps. Matt Gaetz, Katherine Cammack, Daniel Webster, Gregory Steube, Mario Diaz-Balart, Carlos Giménez, and Bill Posey, among others, objected to both the Arizona and Pennsylvania votes.  

On Alert

Two years later, out of an abundance of caution, the US Capitol Police (USCP) is ramping up its security posture about planned protests set to occur. According to CNN, sources say that USCP will have civil disturbance units on standby for several protests on the Capitol grounds that have permits and at the Supreme Court building.

Biden Honors

But despite the rumors of unrest, on Friday, for the first time in his presidency, President Joe Biden plans to mark the two-year anniversary of the insurrection by awarding the Presidential Citizens Medal to 12 people for their “courage and selflessness” in their efforts to protect democracy. Those honored include law enforcement officers who were injured defending the Capitol, a Capitol Police officer who died the day after the riots, and election workers who rejected efforts by Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the election.



  • Giselle Balido

    Giselle is Floricua's political correspondent. She writes about the economy, environmental and social justice, and all things Latino. A published author, Giselle was born in Havana and grew up in New Jersey and Miami. She is passionate about equality, books, and cats.



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