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Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin arrested for alleged role in D.C. riot

Otero County commissioner and founder of Cowboys for Trump Couy Griffin posted video of himself from the scene at the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6.

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin.

An Otero County commissioner who said there could be “blood running out” of the U.S. Capitol building on Inauguration Day was arrested Sunday in Washington, D.C., for his alleged role in the riots at the Capitol earlier this month.

FBI spokesman Frank Fisher said Couy Griffin, 47, was detained Sunday afternoon by U.S. Capitol Police, who then notified the FBI. Griffin had a warrant for his arrest on a charge of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority.

The charge stems from his alleged involvement in the Jan. 6 riots. It was not clear Sunday evening if Griffin had an attorney.

Griffin’s alleged involvement in the riots prompted calls over the weekend for his resignation.

A seven-page affidavit for an arrest warrant filed in federal court Friday says FBI agents used videos of Griffin posted on the Cowboys for Trump Facebook page as well as other public statements he made about the riot and the inauguration to bring the charge against him.

According to the affidavit, the FBI received a tip that Griffin was at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and posted videos on Facebook in which he said he planned to return to Washington on Jan. 20 and put a flag on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk.

Agents later saw a video posted on the Cowboys for Trump Facebook page in which Griffin says he “climbed up on top of the Capitol building and … had a first row seat,” the complaint says. He went on to say in the video that he will return to the Capitol on Jan. 20 and that “there’s gonna (sic) be blood running out of that building.”

Agents interviewed Griffin on Jan. 11, and he said he and a videographer went to the Capitol on Jan. 6 to protest the 2020 presidential election results. He said he and the videographer remained on the Capitol steps and never entered the building.

Griffin told agents that he hoped the Jan. 20 protests would be peaceful. But he also said “he hopes a change in leadership can be accomplished ‘without a single shot being fired,’ but noted that there was ‘no option that’s off the table for the sake of freedom,’ ” the affidavit says.

Agents also interviewed the videographer, who is not facing charges. He said that as people were passing barriers, he and Griffin climbed up to the outside deck of the Capitol, which he acknowledged was a restricted area, and remained there for about an hour and a half. He said they left when they started to smell pepper spray.

Agents referenced a Jan. 14 Otero County Commission meeting, during which Griffin spoke for 17 minutes about his actions at the Capitol as well as his plan to return to the Capitol with at least two guns.

Griffin has been at the center of controversy before for saying “the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat” and saying that some Black athletes should “go back to Africa.”

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas had called for Griffin to resign from the Otero County Commission before the FBI confirmed Griffin’s arrest. Balderas sent a letter to Griffin on Saturday and shared it with news media Sunday.

Balderas told Griffin that his “recent participation in the violent insurrectionist attack on the United States Capitol … is a direct violation of your sworn oath of office, and a danger to our society, Your incendiary comments from the steps of the Capitol and your calls to incite violence against the foundation of our nation’s democracy cannot be tolerated from an elected official.” He also said that Griffin had been accused of “using public money to advance (his) personal profile,” using his platform as a commissioner to spread racism and making “threatening remarks to political opponents.”

Democratic Party of New Mexico Chair Marg Elliston also called for Griffin’s resignation Sunday.

“While our country has struggled to come together and address the challenges that are affecting all Americans, Couy Griffin has spewed conspiracy theories, threatened violence, and now taken part in a direct attack on our democracy,” Elliston said in a statement. “He has no business representing any New Mexican, and leaders across the political spectrum must immediately disavow his support and call for his resignation. His actions are disgraceful and should not be tolerated as part of New Mexico politics.”

 

Read the criminal complaint:

Federal criminal complaint against Couy Griffin by Albuquerque Journal on Scribd

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