Monday, May 29, 2023

What's Next For New Mexico's Capitol Rioters?

Three New Mexico Men Face Charges Stemming From Jan. 6 Riot


It has now been eight months since insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol and hundreds of those who are charged are still awaiting trial. Three New Mexicans have been charged for their involvement in the Capitol insurrection: Otero County Commissioner and founder of Cowboys 4 Trump Couy Griffin, federal government contractor Matthew Martin from Santa Fe and self-proclaimed journalist Shawn Witzemann from Farmington. All three are facing misdemeanor charges that could lead to up to a year in prison if they are found guilty.

Couy Griffin

Griffin has been the most outspoken of the three men charged. Griffin has already had several hearings in which he continued to plead his innocence and claims that law enforcement around the Capitol allowed protestors to enter the grounds. Federal prosecutors have referred to Griffin as an “inflammatory provocateur and fabulist who engages in racist invective and propounds baseless conspiracy theories.” In addition to charges stemming from the riot, Griffin has teased a presidential run with CNN and continued fighting Gov. Lujan Grisham's COVID health mandates while on the commission. The former Paris Disneyland cowboy faces other woes in Otero County where a petition to recall the commissioner has until Sept. 29 to meet their goal of 1574 signatures to trigger a special election. Organizers of the petition say they have collected more than half of the signatures needed.

Shawn Witzemann

Witzemann, who claims he entered the Capitol as a journalist and was filming the riot, has a scheduled hearing on September 14. Witzemann turned himself in on April 6 and pled not guilty. He was formally charged on April 15 with knowingly entering any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, and parading demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.

Matthew Martin

Matthew Martin, a former federal defense contractor, is also waiting for a trial for his involvement in the Jan. riot. According to court documents, Martin has been federally charged with unlawful entry, disorderly conduct impeding the conduct of government business, and parading, demonstrating, or picketing in the capitol buildings. Martin claims that after he saw that the protests were more extreme than he anticipated, Martin claims he flew out of D.C. the following day. Martin claims he is innocent because he and other protestors were encouraged to attend by Donald Trump. His next hearing is on October 1.

According to Politico, Capitol rioters committed over 1,000 assaults on officers on Jan. 6. Griffin, Witzemann, and Martin are three of over 600 people facing charges for their involvement in the Jan. 6 insurrection. Far-right extremist groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers are planning to attend a rally on Friday, Sept. 18 at the U.S. Capitol that is designed to demand “justice” for the hundreds of people who have been charged in connection with January’s insurrection.


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