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We Know Exactly Who the Capitol Rioters Were

Slate – Aymann IsmailA year later, a fuller picture of who really drove the riot is clear. The lessons for 2022 and beyond are sobering.”…Robert Pape, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago, sought data in that chaos. When the earliest arrests came after the riot, Pape began collecting information and systemically profiled the makeup of the rioters. He devoted much of the year to the project, and he’s published extensively on what he and his team have found, including research that tied rioters’ home counties to the areas that had lost the most white population in recent years. Pape now says a much fuller picture of the insurrectionists has emerged, and he agreed to discuss the findings over the phone, one year later. Our conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity….Your initial study looked at about 200 people who had been arrested. Since then, that number has swelled to about 730. What has emerged as the profile of the average rioter, a year later? What are some of the stories you’ve uncovered, and what do they tell us about what led to this?

We’ve now studied nearly 700 who have been arrested, and we’ve brought the study up to date as of early December. What we see is, over half of those who have been arrested are business owners, CEOs from white-collar occupations, doctors, lawyers, and architects. If you look at extremist group membership, again, 13 percent of those nearly 700 arrested as of early December are members of militia groups like the Oath Keepers or extremist groups like the Proud Boys. As I said, this is very different than about half that we normally find. If you look at their ages, two-thirds of those arrested for Jan. 6 are over the age of 34. They’re concentrated in their 40s and 50s. Normally for right-wing extremists, it’s two-thirds under the age of 34. Typically, only 10 percent have a college degree. Here, the Jan. 6 arrestees, 25 percent have a college degree, which is close to the national average of the U.S. electorate at 30 percent. About 15 percent of those on Jan. 6 had prior U.S. military service, but that compares with what we usually see in right-wing extremists at 40 percent. About 10 percent of the U.S. electorate has prior military service, so it’s a little higher than that, but much closer to the U.S. mainstream than to the usual right-wing extremists. What if we look at criminal history? Well, 30 percent of those arrested on Jan. 6 had prior criminal history, mostly for misdemeanors like marijuana charges, but with other right-wing extremists, it’s 64 percent have prior criminal history. The U.S. electorate overall has 20 percent with criminal history…”

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