Not long after he used a stick to swing and stab at police officers struggling to protect the U.S. Capitol from a pro-Trump mob seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 election, Jonathan Mellis took to Facebook. He apparently didn’t like what he saw. Many of his fellow Trump supporters, the ones who like him bought into former President Donald Trump’s lies about mass voter fraud, were starting to believe in another conspiracy theory: that “antifa” was responsible for the attack Mellis participated in.
Mellis wasn’t having it. He hated antifa. And he wasn’t about to see them get credit for his work.
“Don’t you dare try to tell me that people are blaming this on antifa and BLM,” Mellis wrote, referring to Black Lives Matter. “We proudly take responsibility for storming the Castle. Antifa and BLM or [sic] too pussy … We are fighting for election integrity. They heard us.”
The criminal case against Mellis ― dubbed “Cowboy Screech” by online sleuths because of his resemblance to the “Saved By The Bell” character and his cowboy hat ― was unsealed Tuesday. He faces several charges, including for assaulting officers and aiding and abetting, civil disorder, entering a restricted building or grounds, violent entry or disorderly conduct, and obstruction of Justice/Congress.
Mellis wasn’t alone. While plenty of defendants later arrested and charged in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol joined many of their fellow Trump supporters in blaming antifa for the attack, plenty of others were also a bit upset that their work alongside a mob of Trump supporters was being attributed to some fictitious gang of anti-fascists.
HuffPost found at least three other Capitol insurrectionists charged in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol who, the feds say, complained on social media about antifa getting credit for their work.
“Listen up: I hear so many reports of ‘Antifa’ was storming the capital [sic] building. Know that every single person who believes that narrative have been DUPED AGAIN!” wrote Ryan Nichols, who was charged alongside his fellow insurrectionist Alex Harkrider. “Sure, there may have been some ‘Antifa’ in DC, but there wasn’t enough to ‘Storm the Capital’ [sic] themselves.”
“Okay all you conspiracy theorists 😜 don’t worry I loves yous all just setting the record straight,” wrote Karl Dresch. “antifa did not take the capitol.that was Patriots, I can’t guarantee there weren’t some shit birds in the crowd but what multi-million crowd can you guarantee?.don’t give them the thunder, we the people took back our house, the news is all bullshit.and now those traitors Know who’s really in charge.”
“It was not Antifa at the Capitol,” wrote Brandon Straka, a “Stop the Steal” organizer with ties to Trump who was charged last month. “It was freedom loving Patriots who were DESPERATE to fight for the final hope of our Republic because literally nobody cares about them. Everyone else can denounce them. I will not.”
The conspiracies that some mysterious gang of undercover anti-fascists cosplaying as Trump supporters was behind the Jan. 6 attack has gripped Trump supporters since that day. Even as the attack was unfolding, former President Trump himself was floating conspiracy theories about “antifa” being behind the attack.
Trump told House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) during the attack that “antifa” was behind the violence at the Capitol, according to an account by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.). But when McCathy pushed back, Trump acknowledged reality: that the mob was pro-Trump.
“Well, Kevin,” Trump reportedly said. “I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.”