Three Florida residents associated with a group known as the “Oath Keepers” have been arrested and charged in federal court for “conspiring” to disrupt Congress during the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist and hate groups, described the Oath Keepers this way: “Since its founding, the antigovernment group Oath Keepers has steeped itself in conspiracy theories and trained for a revolution against the state.”
SPLC added: Oath Keepers is a large, antigovernment extremist organization, which was incorporated as a domestic nonprofit in Nevada in 2009 with a number of associated state-level nonprofits. The group’s membership is open to the public, and claims to be principally military veterans, law enforcement officers and first responders. Multiple members are in local government.
According to a DOJ news release, Kelly Meggs, of Dunnellon, Florida, is the “self-described leader of the Florida chapter” of the organization and wrote in a Facebook message in late December:
“Trump said It’s gonna be wild!!!!!!! It’s gonna be wild!!!!!!! He wants us to make it WILD that’s what he’s saying. He called us all to the Capitol and wants us to make it wild!!! Sir Yes Sir!!! Gentlemen we are heading to DC pack your s***!!”
The other two Floridians charged are Graydon Young, 54, of Englewood, who was arrested on Monday in Tampa, and Connie Meggs, 59, of Dunellon, who was arrested on Wednesday in Ocala.
Kelly Meggs, 52, also was arrested on Wednesday in Ocala.
Young allegedly arranged, for himself and others, training by a Florida company that provides firearms and combat training, according to the records.
The Department of Justice said in the press release Friday that a total of six additional individuals affiliated with the group were indicted in the District of Columbia by a federal grand jury. (The other three individuals are not in Florida.)
Officials said that Kelly and Connie Meggs, and Young all “donned paramilitary gear” the day of the riots. And they joined with others “in a military-style ‘stack’ formation that marched up the center steps on the east side of the U.S. Capitol, breached the door at the top, and then stormed the building.”
Officials said the case is being prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Counterterrorism Section of the DOJ’s National Security Division, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Middle District of Florida as well as other courts.