New Footage of Capitol Riots

“New footage” of the events of January 6 2021 began circulating on September 22 2021, appearing alongside a predictable set of claims about the “meaning” of the video; similar statements appeared once again after the launch of public hearings on the attempted coup on June 9 2022:

In the Twitter video above, the user claims “[whatever] this is, it is not anything close to a coup or insurrection,” and a post attributed to far right disinformation purveyor Ryan Fournier consisted of the following headline and description:

BREAKING: New Footage from Jan. 6 Riot Emerges

Why wasn’t this made public earlier?’s “Jan. 6 Capitol surveillance footage ordered released by judge: Where’s the ‘insurrection?’” claimed:

While there is undeniable video and photographic evidence showing acts of violence on Jan. 6 [2021] against police, as well as the illegal breaching of the Capitol Building, additional video ordered released by [Judge Beryl] Howell just as clearly shows large numbers of people who entered did so peacefully and did not engage in any violence, much less any acts that could reasonably be described as an “insurrection,” a term used frequently by many lawmakers and left-leaning media figures.

Social media users reacted to the clip showing people calmly entering the building and milling about to push back on the ‘insurrection’ narrative.

To describe that framing as “popular” was an enormous understatement. A September 22 2021 post, “New Surveillance Footage Shows Jan. 6 More Like ‘Open House’ than Insurrection,” tried to claim:

On Tuesday [September 21 2021], five Capitol surveillance videos from the Capitol “riot” were released by the Biden administration after a court ruling.

Here’s the thing….the “insurrection” that Democrats and mainstream media have been preaching about was nothing of the sort. Judging by the footage, it was more like an open house than anything.

Patriots can be seen walking around, carrying flags, while security stands around with hands in pockets.

Trump supporters were peaceful and orderly. Once again, we have been lied to.

You can tell from the videos that the so-called “insurrection” and “worst attack since the Civil War” looked more like an Open House.

On September 23 2021, the site published “The Feds Are Forced to Release January 6th Surveillance Footage and Narratives Crumble,” with the byline “zivwIDRmrABbZGNz66i7VP8tqAwp5746.” In that post, author “zivwIDRmrABbZGNz66i7VP8tqAwp5746” helpfully “described” the video to people who “can’t” watch the video themselves (and, naturally, shoehorned in a reference to scarelore about the U.S.-Mexico border):

If you can’t watch the video, what you’ll see are open doors/windows and people casually walking in. There’s no mad rush, no violence, no weapons, and certainly no organized insurrection. Instead, people mingle, take selfies, and snap pictures of the surrounding architecture. Yes, it’s trespassing and that’s illegal, but what’s on that video is a far cry from the vast threat we’ve been assured was present that day. Does it look like Congressional members were about to be murdered?

Again, I’m not trying to suggest that January 6th [2021] wasn’t dumb. I think the short-sighted idiots who perpetrated it did real damage to Trump and his movement. Yet, I also like to live in reality, and what these videos show is not a nation-shaking insurrection organized by some higher authority. Rather, it shows individuals who made a stupid choice.

But trespassing is not a justification to keep people locked up indefinitely, and it’s not an excuse for the government to withhold evidence from the public simply because they think it’ll be embarrassing to their narrative. There are thousands more hours of footage that should be released at this point. Let the evidence or lack thereof speak for itself. The idea that any of this is endangering national security is a joke, and I’m glad this judge saw through that farce.

Meanwhile, the left is assuring us that basic, non-violent enforcement of illegal immigration at the border is a human rights violation. Yet, they lauded the killing of Ashli Babbitt on January 6th [2021] as completely justified because she was where she wasn’t supposed to be. See the disconnect? All of this is political, from those who continue to obsess over January 6th [2021] to the politicized prosecutors who want to make their career on what mostly amounts to simple assault and people taking selfies. We truly live in the dumbest of times.

Several of the excerpted links referenced BuzzFeed; on September 22 2021, reporter Zoe Tillman tweeted the new footage:

Tillman’s reporting on the topic was detailed, explaining who unsealed the videos (Judge Howell), why they were unsealed (requests from media outlets, including BuzzFeed), and when they were unsealed (September 21 2021):

US District Chief Judge Beryl Howell ordered the videos released in response to a request from a media coalition (including BuzzFeed News) that is petitioning judges on a rolling basis for videos that prosecutors have relied on in Jan. 6 [2021] cases. Howell’s decision isn’t binding on other judges in the US District Court for the District of Columbia presiding over Capitol riot prosecutions, but it gives the media coalition a favorable ruling to point to in future fights.

The clips cover a period of about 15 minutes on Jan. 6 [2021] — between 2:25 p.m. and 2:40 p.m. — in different locations inside the Capitol. They show rioters streaming through open doors and broken windows at an entrance on the Senate side; crowds of people walking into the Crypt, standing in a large crowd, and eventually dispersing; and, finally, rioters exiting as US Capitol Police officers in riot gear gather at the Senate entrance point to stand guard as a mob that’s outside looks in through the broken windows …

… The government cited the latest videos in the case of Eric Torrens, a Tennessee man who took a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty on Aug. 19 [2021] to one misdemeanor count of illegally parading, demonstrating, or picketing in the Capitol. He admitted entering the building through a broken door and walking around. The government noted in court papers that Capitol surveillance cameras recorded his entry into the building as well as his movements inside. Prosecutors cited four other videos they obtained related to Torrens, including one that showed him exclaiming, “We goin’ in!” Those were also released on Tuesday [September 21 2021].

BuzzFeed also explained why “the feds” and “prosecutors” had originally sought to keep the footage unreleased:

The government opposed making the videos public. In response to a petition filed by the media coalition, prosecutors wrote that the videos featured nonpublic information about entrances and exits around the Capitol, and that releasing them would “compromise the security of the United States Capitol and those who work there.”

Judge Howell’s ruling, dated September 15 2021, can be read here [PDF]. On September 22 2021, Tillman acknowledged claims that the “new footage” demonstrated the Capitol insurrection was not violent, tweeting:

A Wikipedia entry for the 2021 United States Capitol attack began:

On January 6, 2021, the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., was violently attacked by a mob of supporters of President Donald Trump. They sought to overturn his defeat in the 2020 presidential election by disrupting the joint session of Congress assembled to count electoral votes that would formalize President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. The Capitol Complex was locked down and lawmakers and staff were evacuated, while rioters assaulted law enforcement officers and vandalized the building for several hours. Five people died either shortly before, during, or following the event: one was shot by Capitol Police, another died of a drug overdose, and three succumbed to natural causes. Many people were injured, including 138 police officers. Four officers who responded to the riot died by suicide within seven months.

By September 2021, events such as the apparent intent to kidnap members of Congress seem to have also faded from the memory of many:

In September 2021, Howell authorized the release of “new footage” of the Capitol riots of January 6 2021, “in response to a request from a media coalition (including BuzzFeed News) that is petitioning judges on a rolling basis for videos that prosecutors have relied on in Jan. 6 [2021] cases.” One such clip, embedded above, became popular in attempts to advance untrue claims that insurrectionists entered the building peacefully, and that they “did not engage in any violence, much less any acts that could reasonably be described as an ‘insurrection.'” The many, many violent examples proving that claim otherwise are well documented — and the claim that “new footage” proved otherwise was not true.

That same rhetoric attempting to dismiss or downplay the violence at the United States  Capitol that day (and the years of agitprop and other incitement that preceded it) made yet another appearance beginning June 9 2022, the same day the January 6 2021 Committee began a series of public hearings about the insurrection.

“An outbreak of mob violence, a forgettably minor outbreak by recent standards, that took place more than a year and a half ago, but they’ve never stopped talking about it,” blogged far-right television host Tucker Carlson, lifting his argument almost verbatim from previous, debunked disinformation narratives:

We hated seeing vandalism at the U.S. Capitol a year and a half ago, and we said so at the time, but we did not think it was an insurrection because it was not an insurrection. It was not even close to an insurrection. Not a single person in the crowd that day was found to be carrying a firearm – some insurrection. In fact, the only person who wound up shot to death was a protester.

In fact, the hearing provided still more evidence and testimonials of malice and violent intent from people who were at the United States Capitol that day:

A bipartisan Senate committee linked seven deaths to the attack on the Capitol on 6 January 2021, the bloody conclusion of a concerted effort by Trump and close aides to overturn the election.

Among visceral evidence presented on Thursday night, a Capitol police officer, Caroline Edwards, described “carnage” and “chaos” as the mob stormed Congress.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes,” she said. “There were officers on the ground, they were bleeding. They were throwing up … I saw friends with blood all over their faces. I was slipping in people’s blood.”

The hearing also included footage of McCarthy’s staff fleeing his office as rioters drew near.

The public hearings will continue through June 2022, and more are anticipated in September.

Update, 6/10/2022, 10:16 AM: This story has been updated with new information and quotes throughout. -bb