November 1, 2022 | Reading Time: 3 minutes
Paul Pelosi attacker was re-running J6
David DePape planned to kidnap and interrogate Speaker Nancy Pelosi to put Congress on notice. That’s the classic logic of terrorism.
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The suspect, David Wayne DePape, has been charged with a slew of state and local offenses, including attempted homicide and attempted kidnapping of a family member of an elected official.
DePape allegedly smashed a back window of Pelosi’s San Francisco home early Friday morning, woke up her sleeping husband and demanded to speak with “Nancy.” The Speaker was not at home.
DePape told investigators his plan was to hold “Nancy hostage and talk to her.” He came prepared with flex-cuffs, tape, rope and two hammers, according to police. He said he wanted to interrogate Nancy Pelosi, because she was the “leader of the pack” of the lying Democratic Party, according to the federal criminal complaint.
DePape said he planned to let Pelosi go if she told him “the truth,” but that if she “lied,” he was going to break “her kneecaps,” the complaint said. DePape said he was certain that Pelosi would not have told the “truth.” This was an astute inference on his part seeing as the “truth” he was looking for probably had something to do with a cabal of satanist pedophiles. Pelosi’s wounds, DePape stated, would put Congress on notice that there are “consequences for actions.”
That’s the classic logic of terrorism.
DePape’s plan is reminiscent of another plan to kidnap and interrogate Democratic leaders. It’s what the Wolverine Watchmen militia were accused of plotting to do with Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat. The men schemed and trained to kidnap her and “put her on a show trial” over covid regulations.
DePape’s online footprint shows a man in the tightening grip of radicalization. He registered a domain name in August and began posting feverishly about QAnon, Pizzagate and the pedophile cabal that runs the world. He was an election denier and a proponent of the Big Lie of 2020 voter fraud. He also indulged in Holocaust denial and other forms of antisemitism, anti-Black racism, rants against “groomers” and attacks on Ukrainian democracy. He also found time to defend the honor of rightwing scholar and icon Jordan Peterson.
DePape embraced the Revolutionary War kitsch beloved of J6 insurgents. In an interview, he repeatedly likened himself to the American founding fathers. He claimed to be fighting tyranny without the option of surrender.
Some of the most notorious J6 insurgents specifically targeted Pelosi during the J6 siege.
Guy Reffitt said he wanted to drag Nancy Pelosi out of the building. He brought a semi-automatic handgun onto Capitol grounds. “I just want to see Pelosi’s head hitting every fucking stair of the building,” Reffitt said. Reffit also brought flex-cuffs.
Oath Keeper Kelly Meggs, who is on trial for seditious conspiracy, said he wanted to see Pelosi’s head “rolling down the front steps” of the Capitol. Meggs and fellow Oath Keeper Kenneth Harrelson are accused of splitting off from the group to go “hunting” for Pelosi.
Dawn Bancroft admitted on video that she and her friend broke into the Capitol and that they’d been “looking for Nancy to shoot her in the friggin’ brain.”
We now know, in the suspect’s own words, that he was specifically targeting Speaker Pelosi for political violence. In the days following the attack, the political right has tried every bad faith deflection tactic imaginable, blaming DePape’s actions on drugs and mental illness. While DePape is likely mentally ill and may suffer from addiction, these factors are secondary at best.
This was a well-organized, premeditated attack.
DePape allegedly assembled a restraint kit, bought hammers, pinpointed his target’s address, and broke into the home under the cover of darkness. He knew exactly what he was doing.
The roots of this attack lie in toxic conspiracy theories that convince unstable people that their freedom is at risk and an insurrection that has gone largely unpunished.
As president Joe Biden said in Delaware, “[i]t’s one thing to condemn the violence but you can’t condemn the violence unless you condemn those people who continue to argue the election was not real, that it’s being stolen.”
Lindsay Beyerstein covers legal affairs, health care and politics for the Editorial Board. An award-winning documentary filmmaker, she’s a judge for the Sidney Hillman Foundation. Find her @beyerstein.