U.S. Senator urges mobile, social media providers to keep Capitol rioters' data as man seen seizing Speaker's lectern arrested

by Reuters
Saturday, 9 January 2021 17:39 GMT

FILE PHOTO: Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump climb on walls at the U.S. Capitol during a protest against the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2021. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith/File Photo

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Senator Mark Warner urged mobile carriers to keep content and associated meta-data connected to the riot

(Adds Warner's letters, details, background)

By Rich McKay

Jan 9 (Reuters) - A man photographed carrying off the Speaker's lectern during the Capitol Hill riots was arrested late Friday, while a top Democratic lawmaker on Saturday called on mobile carriers to preserve social media content related to the riots.

Dozens of people have been charged following the storming of the Capitol on Wednesday, with the FBI asking the public for help identifying participants, given the proliferation of images of the riots on the internet. Five people have died, including a Capitol Hill police officer.

On Saturday U.S. Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat who is the incoming Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, urged mobile carriers to keep content and associated meta-data connected to the riot, which erupted as lawmakers gathered to certify the election of President-elect Joe Biden.

Warner, in letters to the companies, emphasized how the rioters took the time to document the event and posted them via social media and text messages "to celebrate their disdain for our democratic process."

The photograph of Adam Christian Johnson smiling and waving as he carried off Speaker Nancy Pelosi's lectern from the House of Representatives chambers had gone viral. Johnson, of Parrish, Florida, also streamed live video on Facebook of himself as he walked the halls of the Capitol, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

The video has been removed from online platforms and all his pages have been taken down.

Efforts by Reuters Saturday to reach Johnson's family at his home were not successful. It was unclear if he had legal representation.

He is a stay-at-home father of five children who lives with his wife in their Parrish home, the Miami Herald reported. The newspaper also reported that on Johnson's social media pages, he boasted of being in Washington ahead of the riots.

Johnson, who has a first appearance in federal court on Monday, is being charged out of Washington.

Along with the arrest of Johnson, there were at least 13 people facing criminal charges in U.S. District Court in connection to the riot, and at least another 40 people were facing lesser charges in the District of Columbia Superior Court, a local venue.

Many of those individuals were arraigned on Thursday and released, with an order from the judge not to return to Washington unless it is for court appearances or meetings with their attorneys.

They included Richard Barnett, the Gravette, Arkansas, man who was photographed sitting at Pelosi's desk and is also known as Bigo.

The FBI and Washington's police department are jointly investigating the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who was injured while defending the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Flags at the Capitol were lowered to half-staff on Friday in honor of Sicknick.

Capitol Police have said the Washington police's homicide unit was probing the death.

"Just because you've left the D.C. region, you can still expect a knock on the door if we find out you were part of the criminal activity at the Capitol," Steven D'antuono, the FBI Washington Field Office's assistant director in charge, said on Friday. (Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)