According to court documents, a ‘ringleader’ of statue vandals burned a cigarette in the flames of the monument
Jason Charter, the Antifa-linked activist charged on Thursday with being the alleged “ringleader” in the June 22 attempted desecration of the Andrew Jackson statue in Lafayette Square near the White House, was also allegedly involved in the June 20 desecration of the Albert Pike Historical Statue in Washington, and even lit a cigarette while the monument was engulfed in flames.
According to court filings, the federal government is continuing its attempts to identify and punish those who deface national monuments.
President Donald Trump has urged authorities to pursue rioters who desecrate laws, signing an executive order to strengthen security and penalties.
Even though she was wearing a mask, the FBI tracked down one alleged firebomber in June with the help of a T-shirt she was wearing and a subpoena to the Etsy store where she acquired the items.
The FBI’s charging materials in Charter’s case make it obvious that open-source surveillance footage and interagency collaboration were crucial in securing an arrest.
One of the many shocking disclosures in the records is that a Washington, D.C. police officer who had previously provided Charter a ride, as well as social media commenters, were able to establish his identity.
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“Members of the MPD, FBI, and USPP have reviewed online open source videos,” according to the FBI’s summary of facts, including “videos from MPD body-worn camera footage, and footage recorded by the Secret Service,” to “identify the individuals who attempted to remove the Jackson Statue from its base and damage it, including the cannons at the statue’s base.”
Charter has remained silent since his arrest, but he has a court date set for Thursday.
Charter was caught on camera “entering the grounds of Lafayette Park on June 22, 2020, at approximately 6:16:52 PM,” wearing not only a white face mask and ski goggles, but also a “armband on his right arm, holding a walking cane, and a “Swiss Gear logo backpack with a bicycle helmet dangling from the side,” according to the bureau.
Charter was then “boosted up onto the statue by an unknown subject and then appears to solicit ropes from people on the ground level,” according to the report.
He was seen carrying the “identical Swiss Gear logo backpack, cycling helmet, walking cane, and armband” as he took part in the attack on the Pike statue days later, according to the FBI.
Charter was “observed… standing over the toppled Pike Statue, pouring an unknown substance upon the statue” on June 20, according to the FBI.
“He is then seen gesturing people away from the statue and kneeling behind it, his hands hidden behind the statue.
The statue catches fire seconds later. As the fire burns, Charter may be seen standing over the flames.”
According to the FBI, Charter is “seen with his facial covering gone, burning a cigarette in the flames devouring the Pike Statue.”
Repairing the Pike statue, which includes removing graffiti and replacing its charred facade, is estimated to cost up to $250,000.
According to the FBI, the “historic cannon carriages at the base of the statue were irreversibly destroyed, that some elements of the statue were twisted, and that other parts of the statue experienced damage from blunt objects and chemicals” in the case of the Jackson statue.
According to the records, the historic cannon carriages are anticipated to cost $76,000 to replace, and the “estimated cost to restore one of the bent pieces of the monument is $2,000.”
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The FBI also claims that Charter was photographed without any face coverings in both instances, which is problematic for Charter.
And, according to the FBI, Lieutenant Jason Bagshaw of the Metropolitan Police Department has interacted with Charter on several times and has been able to definitely identify him.
According to the FBI, Charter has “called Lieutenant Bagshaw on his mobile phone on a regular basis to discuss these topics, and Charter even rode with Lieutenant Bagshaw to a convenience shop following a protest in June of 2020.”
On June 26, park officials went online and found a video of “a white male being physically abused by a male clothed in black, wearing a black helmet, red goggles, and brandishing a blue cane.”
“The person in black was identified as Jason Charter in the comments section beneath the video,” the FBI continues.
“Officers were able to track down Jason Charter’s Twitter account.”
According to the charging documents, “further investigation revealed that on June 20, 2020, shortly after the destruction of the Pike Statue, Charter posted an image of the Pike Statue on fire on his Twitter page with the caption, ‘Tearing down statues of traitors to the nation is a service to this nation, not a crime,” according to the charging documents.
“Law enforcement has also discovered Charter’s Facebook account, where he publishes photographs of the Albert Pike Statue burning on the ground at 1:50 a.m. on June 20, 2020, with the message, ‘Death to all Confederate Statues.'”
Carter’s Twitter account, according to the FBI, was still active on Thursday afternoon.
According to Chuck Ross of The Daily Caller, Charter allegedly confused foetal alcohol syndrome with alcoholism in a tweet that has since been deleted.
“I find it humorous people think my black eyes are from drugs and not from the endless hours I devote to work, activism, my love life, and my interests,” Charter wrote in a tweet on July 2.
According to law enforcement officials, Jason Charter was detained without incident at his home on Thursday morning and charged with destruction of federal property.
As part of a joint task force, he was apprehended by the FBI and the United States Park Police.
Charter has ties to Antifa, according to these reports, and was a leader on the night of June 22 when a huge group of demonstrators attempted to desecrate the Andrew Jackson statue.
Charter confessed his affiliation with Antifa in many tweets, according to journalist Andy Ngo.
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A federal law enforcement official described them as “very well-organized.”
“Charter was on top of the statue, instructing people… they had acid, chisels, straps, and a human chain around the statue, preventing police from reaching it.”
In the aftermath of George Floyd’s in-custody death, the Justice Department announced last month that it had filed dozens of charges for riot-related federal offences, including aiming a green laser pointer at an FBI plane overhead in Milwaukee, torching the Third Precinct police station in Minneapolis, and impersonating a U.S. Marshal in Orlando.
The Department of Justice has released a document obtained by Fox News that details how some of the arrests were made amid the pandemonium.
Branden Michael Wolfe, 23, was caught on June 3 trying to enter a home improvement store in St. Paul, Minnesota, “wearing body armour and a law enforcement duty belt and brandishing a baton.”
Wolfe had previously worked at the business as a security guard, but had been “fired earlier that day after referencing to social media posts regarding stealing products from the Third Precinct,” according to the DOJ.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey had ordered the evacuation of the Third Precinct, prompting a condemnation from President Obama; Frey was then booed away by demonstrators for refusing to agree to completely defund the police.
Wolfe was allegedly wearing several stolen things from the Third Precinct when he was arrested, including “body armour, a police-issue duty belt with handcuffs, an earphone piece, baton, and knife” — and his name was “handwritten in duct tape on the back of the body armour.”
Wolfe was later found with a “riot helmet, 9mm pistol magazine, police radio, and police issue overdose kit,” according to authorities.
At the police station, he allegedly admitted to throwing a barrel into the flames.
Bill Mears and Jake Gibson of Fox News contributed to this article.