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Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol: why was Republican gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley arrested?

The FBI has arrested one of the five remaining Michigan GOP gubernatorial candidates for his participation in the Capital insurrection on 6 January 2021.

Michigan GOP gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley arrested

The FBI raided the Allendale, Michigan home of Republican gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley and arrested him on misdemeanor charges related to his involvement in the Capitol riot on 6 January 2021. Kelley was arraigned in federal court in Grand Rapids on Thursday hours before Congress is set to begin public hearings on those horrific events.

This also comes just days after five of the ten GOP gubernatorial candidates were stricken from the ballot for the Michigan primary elections due to be held 2 August. After reviewing nominating petitions, the Michigan Bureau of Elections removed the candidates over “a substantial volume of fraudulent” registration signatures.

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Ryan Kelley charged with four counts

Federal prosecutors have filed four charges against Kelley related to his participation in the insurrection on 6 January at the US Capitol. He is one of dozens of GOP candidates for political office around the nation that took part in the attack on the US Capitol that left 140 police officers injured and resulted in the death of five.

According to court documents he knowingly entering or remaining on the US Capitol or its grounds without authority, disorderly and disruptive conduct in that space, knowingly engaging in any physical violence against persons or property on US Capitol grounds and willfully injuring or attacking property of the United States. If convicted on the charges, Kelley, 40, could face up to 10 years in federal prison.

Ryan Kelley poses for a portrait as he joins supporters of former President Donald Trump gathering to demand for a forensic audit of the 2020 presidential election.
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Ryan Kelley poses for a portrait as he joins supporters of former President Donald Trump gathering to demand for a forensic audit of the 2020 presidential election.EMILY ELCONINREUTERS

What evidence does the FBI have against Kelley?

The FBI had Kelley under investigation soon after the violent attack on the US temple of democracy 6 January after receiving “multiple tips regarding Ryan Kelley’s presence at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.” Their efforts were also aided by an informant who was helping the bureau investigate domestic terrorism.

The Michigan GOP candidate made the FBI’s job a little easier in identifying him from videos of the Capitol assault by wearing the same clothes he had worn to other rallies. Kelley can be seen on video “wearing a black hat and a black coat ... in a crowd of people who are assaulting and pushing past law enforcement officers.”

The government’s complaint reports that he wore identical clothing “a backward black hat, blue shirt and black coat” to two other rallies. In May at the American Patriot Council “Judgement Day” rally in Lansing and in October 2020 at the “American Patriot Council Nationwide Freedom March” in Allendale, Michigan.

What does the FBI say Kelley did?

According to the FBI’s complaint filed with the court, “At approximately 2:00 p.m., KELLEY climbed onto and stood on an architectural feature next to the North West stairs and indicated by waving his hand that the crowd behind him should move towards the stairs leading into the U.C. Capitol building.”

“At approximately 2:20 p.m., KELLEY continued to gesture to the crowd, consistently indicating that they should move towards the stairs that led to the entrance of the U.S. Capitol interior spaces,” the complaint says.

“At approximately 2:25 p.m., the individual in the black hat uses his cell phone to take a picture of blood on an architectural feature at the U.S. Capitol Grounds, while standing on same, in a video posted to YouTube,” the document continues.

“At about 2:29 p.m. the individual arrives at the top of the stairs and enters the U.S. Capitol’s North West Courtyard and uses their thumb to motion towards the doors to the interior of the U.S. Capitol Building,” the complaint adds.

The last time Kelley was seen at the Capitol was around 3:26 in the North West Courtyard. The complaint doesn’t say whether the Michigan gubernatorial hopeful ever entered the building.

Who is Michigan GOP gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley?

Kelley is a real estate broker who serves clients across Michigan according to his campaign website. His only experience in government that he lists was when he was appointed as a member of the Allendale Township Planning Commission which he is no longer a part of. He seemingly blames that on “cancel culture” for his “being a courageous voice for conservative values.”

He was a founder of the American Patriot Council according to the Detroit News. He and a colleague organized rallies at the Capitol in Lansing and in Grand Rapids. They were convened to protest the statewide lockdowns and mandates. Another in Lansing was “to encourage the state legislators not to extend the emergency powers of the governor beyond the specified time limit.”

According to the Detroit Free Press he angered Allendale residents for his defense of a controversial Civil War statue dedicated to “all those who served.” It depicts a Confederate soldier and Union soldier standing back to back with a slave child on the ground between them holding a tablet that reads “Freedom to slaves.”

Kelly organized multiple rallies at the statue, to one of which he invited William Null. The guest drew criticism as he is one of the suspects facing felony charges for his role in the alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in October 2020.


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