A Trump supporter from Oklahoma has now been arrested by federal authorities and criminally charged for participating in the January riot at the Capitol and assaulting a journalist during the chaos. 41-year-old Benjamen Scott Burlew has been charged with federal crimes including perpetrating physical violence on restricted grounds after authorities uncovered how he helped perpetrate an assault on an Associated Press photographer, which included shoving the photographer over a wall that was several feet off the ground. According to government charging documents, Burlew’s behavior also included “shoving” the photographer, who had a lanyard identifying themselves as a journalist and had a camera during the altercation.
Authorities apparently have had access to “two videos from separate sources taken during the riots” that show Burlew’s assault on the photographer, according to charging documents filed against him. Those materials also state that the “assault included physically grabbing and shoving the [member of the news media] and pushing him forcefully over a low wall.” Burlew’s actions surrounding the assault on that journalist, who was targeted by other riot participants around the same time, included walking away from the scene and then shortly thereafter coming right back, at which point he pushed the photographer over the wall. As a Justice Department press release put it, Burlew is alleged to have “lunged toward the photographer and grabbed his upper chest and leg to forcefully throw and push the photographer over the wall to the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building, several feet below.”
Burlew has apparently denied to the FBI that he was even in D.C. on January 6, but his identity was apparently confirmed by four confidential witnesses, including a member of his own family. Troublingly, Burlew “is one of eight individuals in this investigation who have been arrested for allegedly destroying media equipment, assaulting journalists or inciting violence against members of news media,” according to that same press release from the Justice Department, showing some of the the dangerous implications of the vitriol spread by Trump and his supporters. These assaults on members of the media did not occur in a vacuum — Trump has spent years going after journalists, who he falsely claims conspire against him and peddle “fake news,” and his rhetoric has long since reached the point that he has repeatedly described the bulk of the mainstream media as the “enemy of the people.” These baseless, rhetorical attacks lead right into the actual, physical attacks against journalists that unfolded at the Capitol.