D.C. sues Proud Boys and Oath Keepers over Jan. 6 Capitol attack The District of Columbia is seeking damages from the two far-right groups for allegedly conspiring to terrorize the city with the violent attack on Jan. 6.

D.C.'s attorney general is suing the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers over Capitol attack

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Some other news now - Washington, D.C. is suing to far-right extremist groups, the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers. Both face a claim of damages for their role in the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. This is a civil suit on top of the criminal charges that hundreds of people face.

NPR justice correspondent Ryan Lucas is covering this story.

Ryan, thanks for joining us.

RYAN LUCAS, BYLINE: Hi, Steve.

INSKEEP: What are the allegations in this lawsuit by the District of Columbia?

LUCAS: Well, first off, it names, as you said, the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers as defendants. But it also names the group's leaders, as well as some two dozen suspected members, most of whom are facing criminal charges over their alleged roles in January 6 as well. Now, the lawsuit accuses them of coordinating and plotting the violence that occurred on January 6 at the Capitol. And the lawsuit says that the District of Columbia, the city itself, its residents and, in particular, the D.C. Police who defended the Capitol that day were traumatized by the events of January 6. And there's an emotional and financial toll for the district as it picks up the pieces.

Karl Racine is the attorney general for Washington, D.C. He announced this lawsuit yesterday. And here's a bit of what he had to say.

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KARL RACINE: While some desperately want to rewrite history and sweep the events of January 6 under the rug, the District of Columbia and its residents have chosen to speak truth through this filing, through this complaint, through this case.

INSKEEP: Ryan, how does this civil suit differ, if at all, from the civil lawsuits that have already been filed on the events of January 6?

LUCAS: Well, there are two other similar lawsuits. One was filed by members of Congress. The other was filed by Capitol Police officers who were in the fight defending Congress from the mob on January 6. This is the first lawsuit, though, to be filed by a government agency to try to hold someone responsible to seek damages for the events of that day. But there is an interesting common thread in all three of these lawsuits. They all cite the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act. And that's a law that was passed during Reconstruction, after the Civil War, to try to protect Black Americans from intimidation and threats. It's also one of the laws that was used to sue the far-right groups behind the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville in 2017. And a jury in that case awarded the plaintiffs around $25 million in damages.

INSKEEP: Big price tag - the kind of price tag that could put a group out of business - is the goal here to bankrupt the Proud Boys or the Oath Keepers?

LUCAS: Well, Racine says that this lawsuit has several goals. It's about accountability for the folks who stormed the Capitol or planned and enabled it. He also says the lawsuit would allow him to follow the money trail and see who helped finance January 6. But yes, Steve, this is also very much about seeking punitive and compensatory damages. Racine said the district wants to squeeze, quote-unquote, "every penny" that it can from these groups.

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RACINE: We're using the Ku Klux Klan Act and other laws to absolutely bring as much financial pain - hit them in the pocket - as possible.

LUCAS: And Racine also said yesterday that if this lawsuit just so happens to bankrupt these two groups, the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, so be it. He said if that happens, he would consider that a good day.

INSKEEP: NPR's justice correspondent Ryan Lucas - thanks.

LUCAS: Thanks, Steve.

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