Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
Among the thousands that poured into Washington, D.C., for rallies in support of President Donald Trump and to protest what they claim is a fraudulent election were the New Mexico-based Cowboys for Trump.
In videos posted on Facebook, founder Couy Griffin, who was hoping he’d be able to speak at the rally, alternated between criticizing the set up – it was freezing cold, didn’t have enough Porta Johns, and only had a couple of hot dog vendors as food options – and warning that this is only the beginning of the violence. Griffin, an Otero County Commissioner, has previously found himself in the hot seat for saying “the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat” and saying some Black athletes should “go back to Africa.”
Griffin’s videos from D.C. have been viewed thousands of times and while the comments are largely congratulatory, others criticize him for taking part in the mob. He said he didn’t force his way in, didn’t break anything and didn’t assault anyone.
A mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building Wednesday afternoon, disrupting the counting of the electoral votes certifying that Joe Biden won the election.
Jessica Feezell, associate professor of political science at the University of New Mexico, said that while Griffin’s language might not legally qualify as having incited violence, his words are “certainly inciting in general context.”
“That’s nothing new, people have often said things that are incendiary or that are directly threatening,” Feezell said. “The thing that’s unique about these times is you can say these things on social media and they can gain really wide distribution very quickly.”
Calling Wednesday “an unbelievable day” and “one of the most historic and amazing things I have ever seen,” Griffin said the American people have been awakened and are going to clean the country up. He said they were going to do so even if Trump himself backs down.
“We could have a 2nd Amendment rally on those same steps that we had that rally on yesterday and if we do then it’s going to be a sad day because there is going to be blood running out of that building,” Griffin said on the video. “But at the end of the day, you mark my words, we will plant our flag at the desk of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and Donald J. Trump if it boils down to it.”
When reached by phone on Thursday as he made his way to San Diego to pay respects to the woman who was shot and killed by police during the riot, Griffin said his comments are not a threat, they are a warning about what’s going to happen. He pointed out that he had no part in organizing anything.
“It’s not a threat, it’s a reality. You can try to say I’m threatening or I’m inciting but I look at myself more as a Paul Revere warning the government that this is coming,” Griffin said. “The people are fed up, we’re done. Why don’t you cover the Jeffrey Epstein case instead of calling me? You guys are doing a pathetic job reporting the facts.”
He said if there is another rally on Jan. 20, the day of Biden’s inauguration, he will attend. As for what will happen?
“That’s something that only God knows,” Griffin said. “I truly don’t believe that there is going to be a Biden presidency.”
Since the election, Trump and his supporters have been sharing conspiracy theories without providing credible evidence about votes being stolen or tampered with only in swing states that the president lost.
“There is a lot that has happened over the past four years and specifically since the election that has led people to be fed information that makes them angry,” Feezell said. “That makes them feel as though they have been robbed and wronged, that they’re committing an act of correction to be a part of this insurrection, that they’re fixing things. In reality that information shared is widely debunked, is incorrect and is shared in an attempt to manipulate public opinion to serve President Trump’s ends.”
About a dozen U.S. Attorneys from around the country have said they will charge those involved in the breach of the Capitol if they came from their jurisdictions.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office of New Mexico said charges have not been filed but: “We stand ready to act if in the course of investigations of these events we receive information that there is a nexus to our jurisdiction that warrants federal charges.”