Crime

Accused Capitol Rioter Wants Court Clearance to Attend Riot Commemoration UPDATED

Ex-Proud Boy Gabriel Garcia outside Miami's Federal Detention Center at an event to "commemorate" the first anniversary of the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot.
Ex-Proud Boy Gabriel Garcia outside Miami's Federal Detention Center at an event to "commemorate" the first anniversary of the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot. Photo by Michele Eve Sandberg
An accused Capitol Hill rioter from Miami who livestreamed himself inside the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, has asked the judge presiding over his criminal case for permission to travel back to Washington, D.C., for an upcoming event.

And not just any event — an event to support and celebrate his fellow January 6 defendants.

In a motion filed on September 6, Gabriel Garcia, onetime leader of the Vice City chapter of the far-right Proud Boys, seeks the court's approval to visit D.C. to meet with his local attorneys and attend an event featuring "numerous speakers related to supporting Jan. 6 defendants."

A flyer for the "January 6th Solidarity Truth" press conference touts a lineup of more than a dozen speakers, including right-wing provocateur Dinesh D'Souza and the mother of rioter Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed by Capitol Police when she tried to climb through the broken glass of a barricaded door in the Capitol Building. The father of defendant Jake Lang, who is accused of swinging a baseball bat at police during the riot, is also scheduled to speak at the event.

"Come support your January 6th heroes at the biggest J6 event to date!" reads the flyer for the gathering.

Garcia, a 41-year-old former U.S. Army captain, was arrested on January 19, 2021, making him one of the first South Floridians nabbed in connection with the Capitol riot. According to the FBI, he filmed himself entering the Capitol while sporting a red Make America Great Again cap as he taunted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to "come out and play" and called U.S. Capitol Police "fucking traitors."

He faces six federal charges, including civil disorder, obstructing a Congressional proceeding, illegal entry into a restricted area, and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. He has pleaded not guilty to all counts.

Garcia, a Miami-Dade GOP Executive Committee member, was granted pretrial release last year with strict travel restrictions and a requirement that he wear an ankle monitor.

"Mr. Garcia only wishes to enter D.C. to meet with his counsel, attend the event, and then leave," reads his recent motion (attached at the end of this story). "He will not go anywhere else, and he will leave the District by 4:30 p.m."

The January 6th Solidarity gathering is scheduled from 1 to 4 p.m. on September 24, at a site just north of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.

Garcia's Coral Gables-based attorney, Aubrey Webb, tells New Times via email that Garcia has previously traveled under the court's permission "without incident."

"The Court previously allowed Mr. Garcia to travel to D.C. in June to observe a trial of a January 6 defendant, which lasted about a week," Webb says. "The Court also allowed him to travel to Missouri for a spiritual retreat in support of January 6 defendants. That also occurred without incident."
click to enlarge
A flyer touting a "January 6th Solidarity Press Conference" in Washington, D.C., scheduled for September 24, 2022.
Screenshot via J6SOLID
To no avail, Garcia has repeatedly requested removal of his GPS ankle monitor, claiming it emits embarrassing beeping noises around clients of his roofing business and poses a safety hazard at work. Last February, he filed a motion claiming the monitor got caught in a ladder he was climbing and that he fell and dislocated his shoulder.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson wasn't swayed. She noted that Garcia had allegedly failed to document his work activities on a past court-approved business trip to Nashville. 

In April, Garcia filed a motion asking to change the venue of his trial from Washington, D.C., to the Southern District of Florida, asserting that "an extreme level of prejudice exists in DC for January 6 Proud Boys defendants, like him."

The judge denied Garcia's request in a 32-page opinion, saying his argument to move his trial was based on "sweeping, unsupported assertions about a city he does not appear to know or understand."

"Despite his grandiose claims, there is little evidence that D.C. residents know who he is at all," she wrote.

Update published 12:55 pm: On September 8, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson denied Gabriel Garcia’s request to travel to Washington, D.C., for the January 6th Solidarity gathering. While the court previously allowed him to travel to D.C. under strict conditions for court business and attorney meetings, the judge noted Garcia's present request "is of a different nature" and that he is seeking "to return to the very area from which he has been ordered to stay away." Garcia will be permitted to request authorization from the court to meet with his lawyers in D.C. on a date not coinciding with the riot commemoration event.
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Alex DeLuca is a staff writer at Miami New Times.
Contact: Alex DeLuca