Man Who Led Charge Of Rioters On Jan 6 Sent To Prison


24-year-old Texas man Nolan B. Cooke has been sentenced to one year and one day in prison after pleading guilty to a single felony charge of civil disorder over his actions during last year’s Trump-incited attack on the Capitol.

As summarized by the Justice Department, Cooke “joined the front lines of the riot on Jan. 6 and helped lead the charge breaking through the police line.” At the Capitol, Cooke “was part of a crowd of individuals shoving their way through a group of U.S. Capitol Police officers” on the east side of the Capitol building, the department adds. Although he evidently made physical contact with one or more officers while forcing his way towards the Capitol, assaulting or impeding police wasn’t among the charges to which he eventually pleaded guilty. Cooke also participated in the direct push to break in the building: he used a flag pole to bang on a Capitol window and belted out encouragements for others to “break the glass,” as he put it. “There’s a storm coming,” “We’re coming through,” and “Nothing’s holding us back,” he said at other points.

Cooke was originally arrested last January, the day after Biden’s inauguration. It was March 9 of this year when he pleaded guilty to the felony offense of civil disorder. He also faces three years of supervised release after his prison term and a required payment of $2,000 in restitution, seemingly tied to damages at the Capitol from rioters. Cooke apparently posted on social media about his participation in the Capitol violence. “What a crazy fucking day,” Cooke posted on Instagram as a caption to a selfie showing apparent members of the pro-Trump crowd in D.C. that day behind him. And federal authorities alleged that Cooke “brought firearms to DC, but left them in relative’s car,” reporter Scott MacFarlane said at an earlier juncture in the case against Cooke. Footage from a GoPro camera Cooke was wearing as the riot unfolded was part of the federal case against him.

Other recent major developments in the Justice Department’s handling of Capitol riot-related matters include the revelation of seditious conspiracy charges against five people involved with the far-right group known as the Proud Boys. That group includes the organization’s former national leader, Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, and all five members of the group are in pretrial detention.

The possibility of storming the Capitol was under discussion in Proud Boys circles before January 6 ever arrived. As 2020 drew to a close, Tarrio was sent a document called “1776 Returns” that outlined a plan to occupy buildings in Washington, D.C., although that list doesn’t seem to have included the Capitol itself. Tarrio responded approvingly to stuff the person who sent the document was saying — although that’s far from where planning ended. Members of the Oath Keepers, another similarly styled far-right group, have also been charged with seditious conspiracy. Their preparations included the procurement of weapons for potential lethal violence. There was a hope on their side for Trump to invoke a federal law allowing presidents to call up militias, and they were ready to serve in that role in furtherance of securing another term for Trump.