Reason Roundup

Off-Duty Cops Face Federal Charges for Capitol Rioting

Plus: China tech giants escape U.S. investment ban, law and order liberals reappear, and more...

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Off-duty police officers from around the country are turning up in photos and video footage from the January 6 Capitol riot. Two cops from Rocky Mount, Virginia, have even been arrested and indicted on federal charges, after being "photographed in the Capitol building making an obscene gesture in front of the John Stark statue."

Those officers—Jacob Fracker and Thomas Robertson—are charged "with one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds," according to a Department of Justice (DOJ) press release.

Not only did the Virginia cops photograph themselves breaking the law, they also posted about it themselves on social media. From the DOJ:

On social media, Robertson is quoted as saying, "CNN and the Left are just mad because we actually attacked the government who is the problem and not some random small business … The right IN ONE DAY took the f***** U.S. Capitol. Keep poking us." He also stated that he was "proud" of the photo on an Instagram post that was shared to Facebook, because he was "willing to put skin in the game." On Facebook, Fracker posted a comment that read, "Lol to anyone who's possibly concerned about the picture of me going around… Sorry I hate freedom? …Not like I did anything illegal…y'all do what you feel you need to." The post has since been deleted.

You can read the full complaint here.

Fracker and Robertson weren't the only off-duty cops at the Capitol riot who have caught the feds' attention. "An 18-year veteran of the Houston Police Department is under federal investigation for his participation in the riot at the U.S. Capitol last week," notes The Texas Tribune.

"I can't tell you the anger I feel at the thought of a police officer, and other police officers, thinking they get to go storm the Capitol," Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said at a Wednesday press conference.

As of January 13, at least 28 law enforcement officers from 12 states "have been identified by law enforcement agencies and local reporting as attendees of the Jan. 6 rally in support of President Trump that sparked a riot at the U.S. Capitol," reports The Appeal, which offers more details about each one.*

In perhaps related news, Princeton researchers looking at U.S. protests say American cops were three times more likely to use force against left-leaning than right-leaning protesters. The U.S. Crisis Monitor—"a database created this spring by researchers at Princeton and the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data project (ACLED), a nonprofit that has previously monitored civil unrest in the Middle East, Europe, and Latin America"—found that law enforcement authorities used "teargas, rubber bullets, beatings with batons, and other force against demonstrators at 511 leftwing protests and 33 rightwing protests since April," according to The Guardian.

The paper "compared the percentage of all demonstrations organized by leftwing and rightwing groups that resulted in the use of force by law enforcement. For leftwing demonstrations, that was about 4.7% of protests, while for rightwing demonstrations, it was about 1.4%, meaning law enforcement was about three times more likely to use force against leftwing versus rightwing protests."


FREE MINDS

We're approaching dangerous territory for civil liberties. "Progressives and liberals have begun to mimic the calls for 'law and order' of their conservative counterparts, even going as far as threatening to expand the 'war on terror,'" writes Akin Olla at The Guardian. "A Biden administration with a 50-50 Senate will seek unity and compromise wherever it can find it, and oppressing political dissidents will be the glue that holds together Biden's ability to govern."


FREE MARKETS

China is winning the trade war Trump started. China "closed out 2020 with an overall trade surplus of $78 billion for December, according to official customs data released Thursday," reports CNN:

China's overall surplus for the year hit a record $535 billion, up 27% from 2019. Exports, meanwhile, rose to an all-time high.

"Amid all the noises on de-coupling and de-globalization, somewhat unexpectedly, the pandemic has deepened the ties between China and the rest of the world," wrote Larry Hu, chief China economist for Macquarie Capital, in a research report.

In other Trumpian-fails-on-China news:

 The Trump administration has scrapped plans to blacklist Chinese tech giants Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu, four people familiar with the matter said, providing a brief reprieve to Beijing's top corporates amid a broader crackdown by Washington.

[…] E-commerce giant Alibaba, search engine giant Baidu and video game leader Tencent, which owns messaging app WeChat, were on the short list to be added to a catalogue of alleged Chinese military companies, which would have subjected them to a new U.S. investment ban.

But Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, widely seen as taking a more dovish stance on China, pushed back, freezing the plans, the people said. The companies as well as the Treasury, State and Defense departments did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

More here.


QUICK HITS

The House has voted to impeach Trump—now what? The matter moves to the Senate, which can hold a trial on impeachment even after Trump has left office.

• Ten Republicans voted for impeachment in the House yesterday: Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, Tom Rice of South Carolina, Dan Newhouse of Washington, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, Fred Upton of Michigan, Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, Peter Meijer of Michigan, John Katko of New York, and David Valadao of California.

• Oh look, celebrities love politics again.

• It's that time of year again…

• Nick Gillespie talks to Techdirt's Mike Masnick about decentralizing the internet.

• Even Snapchat is banning Trump now.

• Andrew Yang is officially running for mayor of New York City. On his platform: TikTok Hype Houses.

• "Cloth masks, especially homemade ones, were supposed to be a stopgap measure. Why are so many of us still wearing them?" asks The Atlantic.


* CORRECTION: This post previously attributed The Appeal's analysis of cops at the Capitol riot to The Intercept and has been corrected.

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