Brandon Fellows had by no means attended a Trump rally earlier than final week. He stated he was motivated to drive to Washington after seeing a tweet from the president. “Huge protest in D.C. on January sixth,” President Donald Trump wrote on Dec. 19. “Be there, can be wild!”
Fellows did not find out about a deliberate march that might ultimately overtake the U.S. Capitol. He stated he had merely come to see Trump give a speech.
However inside hours of watching Trump’s speech, Fellows had his ft propped up on a desk within the workplace of a U.S. Senator, smoking a joint. He roamed the halls of the Capitol, heckled law enforcement officials and posted movies alongside the way in which on Snapchat.
“I’ve no regrets,” stated Fellows, a 26-year-old former grocery retailer employee from upstate New York who now makes cash slicing timber and repairing chimneys. “I did not damage anybody, I did not break something. I did trespass although, I assume.”
Certainly, within the days for the reason that upheaval, Fellows stated his profile on the courting app Bumble is “blowing up” after he posted footage of himself on the Capitol.
Fellows was amongst a whole lot of Trump supporters who broke into the Capitol on Jan. 6, forcing Vice President Michael Pence, members of Congress and their staffs into hiding. 5 folks died within the melee, together with a rioter who was shot by police and a Capitol Police officer from unspecified accidents suffered throughout an altercation with the intruders.
Fellows’s story supplies an in depth account of how one Trump supporter ended up collaborating within the Capitol riot, an occasion that has spawned mass condemnation and prompted Home Democrats to pursue impeachment for a second time in lower than two years.
His story additionally gives a real-world instance of a Trump supporter who absorbed false info on social media and heeded the president’s name to take motion. It is an illustration of why so many know-how corporations have taken steps for the reason that Capitol riot to crack down on conspiracies which have proliferated on its platforms, together with Twitter’s ban on Trump’s account.
Fellows, who lives in a transformed college bus, stated he stopped working final spring due to fears of Covid-19. However he stated he turned disillusioned when New York state denied him unemployment advantages. “For some time, in early March and April, I used to be tremendous poor,” he stated.
Fellows stated he will get a lot of his information from conservative commentators on YouTube, together with Ben Shapiro and Steven Crowder. He stated he has additionally began watching Newsmax and One America Information, which have each promoted false claims of a rigged election.
He stated his political opinions have created friction together with his household, a lot in order that on Christmas Day solely his grandparents invited him to dinner. They requested him to eat on his bus as a result of he did not take Covid-19 severely sufficient, he stated.
On the Capitol, he stated, regardless that most of the rioters had been folks he would not usually get together with, it “felt like household.”
“We had been there for one widespread trigger, which is making an announcement that the federal government is crushing down on us,” he stated.
His stepfather of 14 years, Timothy Monroe, stated he wasn’t shocked when he realized that Fellows was contained in the Capitol. “He is aware of what he believes,” Monroe stated. “You possibly can’t actually change it with any type of actuality.”
Fellows stated he got here to D.C. partially as a result of he believes that the election was rigged. However his major motivation was his anger at authorities measures to forestall Covid-19, akin to lockdowns of eating places and gymnasiums.
On Jan. 6, Fellows stated he arrived exterior of the Ellipse, a park adjoining to the White Home, simply after 1 a.m. He was one of many first folks in line to get into Trump’s rally and sat simply 5 rows away from the place the president spoke, video reveals. Fellows got here ready for the chilly climate, sporting snow pants, a leather-based jacket with an American flag emblazoned on the again and a knit hat that resembles a knight’s helmet and beard.
“That is the final stand,” Fellows stated, in an interview with a Bloomberg Information reporter previous to Trump’s speech. “I really feel like I’ve seen quite a lot of the election fraud proof, and I do not perceive why nothing is being executed.” Trump’s claims of election fraud within the Nov. 3 election have been rejected by state and federal courts, in addition to some members of his personal get together.
Following the conclusion of Trump’s speech, Fellows joined in on the march on Pennsylvania Avenue, headed towards the Capitol. “I used to be like ‘Oh cool, there’s gonna be a march,'” he stated. “I’ve by no means been in a march.”
By the point he arrived, he stated the limitations defending the perimeter had already been overrun. As he was scaling a wall to achieve the Senate aspect of the Capitol, he stated he was considering, “I am not lacking this, that is historical past.” Fellows helped others climb over the wall, movies present.
Fellows stated he watched a fellow Trump supporter bashing in a door on the Capitol with a cane and ultimately break by way of the door. A crowd of rioters pushed by way of solely to be pushed again exterior by law enforcement officials. As soon as the constructing was overrun, he stated he initially hesitated earlier than stepping into however did so after listening to that individuals inside weren’t being arrested. He obtained in by way of a damaged window.
Within the half-hour or so he was within the Capitol, he filmed dozens of movies and posted them on Snapchat.
In one in all them, which was reviewed by Bloomberg Information, he heckled Capitol Cops who weren’t sporting helmets.
“The place’s your helmet, bro?” Fellows requested an officer. “I wasn’t issued one, as a result of they ran out,” the officer replied.
“They do not care about you? Are you guys rookies, is that why?” Fellows shot again. “I have been right here eight years,” the officer stated. “Fairly cool what occurred right here as we speak,” Fellows replied.
One other video reveals his muddy boots propped on a desk in Senator Jeff Merkley’s workplace, the place Fellows stated he took two puffs from a joint somebody handed to him. “This one goes to get me incriminated,” Fellows stated of the video in Merkley’s workplace.
In a video posted to Twitter, Merkley surveyed the harm in his workplace wherein a door was smashed “off its hinges” and paintings was torn from the wall. “It was unlocked, they may have merely opened the door,” Merkley stated. “So rely this workplace trashed.”
After leaving Merkley’s workplace, Fellows stated he wandered the Capitol and requested a police officer for instructions to the Nationwide Statuary Corridor. The police officer defined that the statues signify every state and supplied instructions on methods to get there, in response to Fellows’s video of the encounter. “Dude, you are tremendous cool,” Fellows stated.
Fellows’s interactions with law enforcement officials contained in the Capitol led him to imagine there would not be penalties for going inside. “Did I feel I used to be going to get in hassle?” Fellows stated. “Uh, no.”
After leaving the Capitol, Fellows posed for footage subsequent to a line of law enforcement officials in riot gear and on an deserted police bike.
He stated he’s planning to return to Washington for extra protests surrounding President-Elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20, and he predicted there can be extra violence. The FBI issued a warning that there are plans for armed protests in D.C. and in any respect 50 state capitals within the days main as much as the inauguration.
“Clearly Trump began a motion in a means, however I feel we began one thing even greater by doing this,” Fellows stated. However now the regulation enforcement is rounding up others who participated within the Capitol intrusion, he believes he too could also be arrested.
“Do you assume I’ll go to federal jail?” Fellows requested. “I used to be instructed federal jail is just not enjoyable.”
(Aside from the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV employees and is revealed from a syndicated feed.)