During the month of June, lawmakers in Washington, D.C., plan to hold six public hearings on the events that took place on Jan. 6. Two of them are even scheduled during primetime TV in an effort by Democrats to maximize their attempt to frame what happened that day at the U.S. Capitol.
But there’s another side to the story that you won’t hear from the likes of Reps. Bennie Thompson, Adam Schiff, Liz Cheney, or other members of the House select committee. They determined long ago who to blame and what narrative to tell.
Now, thanks to a new documentary called “Capitol Punishment,” Americans are able to hear stories from the people who were there on Jan. 6—in their own words and the ordeals they’ve faced since that day.
Joining me on “The Daily Signal Podcast” are two people who made the movie, actor Nick Searcy and director Chris Burgard. Listen to the full show or read a lightly edited transcript below.
Rob Bluey: Let’s start at the beginning. Let’s go back to that day on Jan. 6. What was your experience in Washington, D.C., like on that day?
Nick Searcy: Part of the reason we wanted to make the movie is that Chris and I were both there and we were in different places. And our experience on that day was so different from what the media was showing us.
We saw people, hundreds of thousands of people, biggest crowd I’ve ever seen. And most of them were singing hymns and saying the Pledge of Allegiance and waving flags. And I saw people of all races, all creeds. It was a very happy, joyful time, really.
And then as the day went on and after the speech was over, I personally saw the police moving barricades and allowing people to go into the Capitol. So the things that we saw on television, that it was a few hundred crazed, right-wing, Trump-supporting white supremacists, was not anything like what I saw when I was there.
Chris Burgard: The difference in what we saw that day versus what was on the news was so dramatic that we just couldn’t just sit by and watch a day in history and the government be stolen.
I had been in Central America during attempted regime change previously, and my bells and whistles were going off, especially when Nick called me and said, “They just moved the barricades. They’re letting people in the Capitol.”
I just said to my wife, I said, “Look—”. We were still marching down to the Capitol. Nick was ahead of us. I said to my wife, I said, “Look at all these peaceful images. Look at this, over a million people here. And there’s no cameras. That leads me to believe that there’s going to be an orchestrated event at the end of this. And that’s the agendas that they want to run with.”
And when Nick called just at that time and said, “Look, they’re moving the bike racks. They’re letting people in,” I looked to my wife and I said, “I got bad deja vu. And I’m afraid someone’s going to die today.” And that’s exactly what it was.
It was just a day of orchestrated events that anybody that knew what they were looking for saw it. I mean, we saw people changing from Antifa black-block into MAGA clothes.
These same people were trying to get us to attack the police, the Capitol Police. We said, “No.” And when we went to the FBI that was on the ground and said, “Hey, you’ve got bad guys here trying to start violence and recruit others to violence. Do you want me to show you who they are?”, the FBI said, “No.” I’m like, “Do you want to take a report? My family can give you witness. I was there with my wife and my daughter,” and the FBI agents on the ground just said, “No, we’re OK. Thank you.” So, there was clearly a disconnect.
Bluey: One of the things that strikes me as I watch the film, and I think so many of the people who do will see this with their own eyes, are the many images and the videos that you have collected and compiled into this one powerful documentary. Share more about the types of people who you interacted with on that day.
Searcy: Like I said, most of the people there were very patriotic people, and people of all races and creeds, and they were not there to cause any violence. And they had come to make their voices heard, that they believed that there were things about the election that didn’t make sense. They wanted the certification to be paused for 10 days so that this could be investigated.
They weren’t there to disrupt any process that was going on in the Senate, which is what most of them have been charged with, is trying to disrupt an official proceeding. They wanted what was happening in the joint session of Congress to happen. [Sens.] Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley and other people were making the argument that this needs to be paused for 10 days.
There’s no reason for the people that came there to make that happen, for them to disrupt the proceeding, which made us begin to put together—when we were making the film—that the fact of the matter is the people that were trying to disrupt the proceeding or the people that … instigated people to go into the Capitol Building were not people that supported Donald Trump. They were not people that wanted the proceedings to be stopped.
And what happened? As soon as the Capitol was breached and all the violence happened, they suspended the session of Congress and they went ahead and certified the election. We can’t have any more discussion. It’s too dangerous.
So the people that went inside, a majority of them, I would say, at least a significant number of them, were not Trump supporters.
Burgard: Yeah, it was pretty obvious. You saw this mass of possibly up to 2 million people headed to the Capitol. And if you could have seen—and picture a huge herd of cattle, but this cattle was mostly, there was a lot of church groups there, families, two and three generations of folks. And then there was a lot of groups from a former communist country, people that had escaped communist countries.
There were Chinese organizations on the ground. There were Americans who were—nationals who were Vietnamese heritage. All these different groups saying how great America was and warning against China and warning against this country moving to socialism because they had escaped that and come to America.
There was just so many good kids there with their parents. And like Nick said earlier, they were praying, they were singing. And the people that you saw at the Trump rally, the people that you saw around the Washington Monument, the people that you were with marching to the Capitol Building is a completely different crowd than what we’ve been seeing over and over again in the attack videos.
Just for your audience alone, anybody that looks at a video of what happened at the Capitol, if the people had a mask on or if the mask was dropped below their chins, they were probably operatives. They were in there to capture this operation.
Because we went through almost 2 million people waiting to go see Trump, seeing Trump and marching back, and I think I saw maybe seven or eight people wearing masks. I mean, the Trump supporters just weren’t wearing them.
Searcy: No, because we Trump supporters are heartless. And remember, we want grandmas to die. We won’t wear our masks.
Bluey: Nick, tell me about the various people that you feature in the movie. There are many stories that I think Americans probably have never heard of.
Searcy: Well, as the movie went on, we started talking to people who had their doors broken down by the FBI. And we interviewed a number of people, Derek Kinnison, Tony Martinez, man named Easton Cantwell, Simone Gold, the America’s Frontline Doctors. And all of these stories were pretty similar.
Six a.m., no phone call, no nothing. FBI shows up at their door. In Derek and Tony’s cases, they came with an overwhelming show of force, armored vehicles driving through their little suburban neighborhood, battering rams, flashbang grenades. They treated these people as if they were drug cartel members or leaders or serial killers, and most of these people had never been arrested for anything in their lives.
And as they tell their stories in the movie, you start to realize, you start to ask yourself the question, what is the government doing? Why is the government treating these people this way?
Simone Gold even says so in the movie, somebody like her, who’s a public figure, no history of violence, they could have just called and said, “We’d like to speak to you,” but no, they come and they treat them like criminals. And they do that to send a message. They are doing this on purpose.
This like a terror tactic. They’re trying to instill fear in the citizenry, that if you stand up to the government or if you stand up and say, “I believe that the election was stolen and shouldn’t have been certified,” then you were committing some vile act and the government is going to come down on you and treat you like this. And they’re trying to send a message to everybody: “Do not ever resist us again or this is what will happen to you.”
And this is an ongoing terror campaign against these people. There’s still people in jail that have been there for over a year, most of whom are charged with misdemeanors, and the people in our movie are still going through their trials.
And this is judicial harassment. These people don’t have much of a chance. They are facing a D.C. jury. They have to have a D.C. attorney because of the rules in the District of Columbia and a D.C. judge.
All of these are 96% Democrat, all of whom hate Trump, all of whom are biased against Trump supporters. So they go in with all these charges against them and they try to get these people to take a plea deal so that they don’t face 80 years in prison or something insane.
And most of the people in our movie never even went in the building. The only two people that went in the building are two 74-year-old twin sister grandmothers who went into the building, asked the police if they could be there, they took a couple of pictures, they walked out, and three weeks later, the FBI’s banging on their door. This is a terror campaign against American citizens who disagreed with the Democrat Party.
Bluey: Chris, let me ask a follow-up question to that. As you went through the process of identifying the people to feature in the film, what was it like talking to them, getting them to tell their stories? And some of them might be apprehensive to speak publicly about this given the circumstances that they currently face, as Nick said, awaiting their judgment.
Burgard: Never underestimate the power of fear to control people, because there were more people than we put in the movie that didn’t go in the movie because they were so afraid.
We actually had to take one person out of the film who did not go into the Capitol. And he was former law enforcement. He was a retired police chief, and we thought he was going to be the strongest guy in the whole film. And over the course of our production, what happened to him and the continuing pressure that the government put on him, he backed out of the film.
So the folks that are still in the film, the biggest thing I can say about them is what good people they are and how brave they are. …
A common thread we saw in this, like Nick was saying, Tony Martinez and Derek Kinnison never went into the building, but what did they have in common and what did some of the other people who were arrested have in common? They were leaders in putting together Trump caravans or helping their community, small business band together when [Black Lives Matter] was coming to protest in their communities or put together anti-mask rallies, but they didn’t go inside the Capitol.
So then you have to ask yourself, “Well, what’s going on here? Are they really going after people they think broke the law? Or is this a political purge?” And that’s something we saw, like with Simone Gold.
I mean, why did they arrest Simone Gold? Because she followed the crowd into the building when the police said it was OK, or did they arrest her because she had previously stood on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court with a bunch of other Frontline Doctors and said, “This pandemic is a hoax. This pandemic is treatable. If we use common sense in good medicine, no one has to die”? That’s what we saw over and over.
Bluey: One of the most powerful parts of the movie, in my experience, was hearing from Aaron Babbitt, the husband of Ashli Babbitt, who tragically died on that day. Nick, [let’s] start with you, what was the experience like talking to Aaron and hearing his perspective on this?
Searcy: So, it was overwhelming. I mean, what the media has done to Ashli Babbitt after she was murdered is as much of a crime as her actual death. They have vilified her as some sort of rabid Trump-supporting zealot. And in fact, nothing can be further from the truth.
Footage that we’ve found since the movie was released of what she was doing before she was killed was, she was telling the people to stop breaking the doors, stop trying to break in. She was talking to the police, saying, “We need more reinforcement up here.” She was actually up there trying to stop the violence rather than cause it, as she’s been portrayed.
And just to hear Aaron recount what it’s like to actually see your wife, your loved one, your partner in life, see her killed on television and be powerless to do anything, to reach her, to be there—I mean, it is heart-rending.
And one of the things we wanted to do with the movie is really humanize Ashli Babbitt and just let people know what she was really like, rather than the way the media has lied about her.
Bluey: And Chris, what are some of the things that you would like our listeners to know about Ashli Babbitt that they might not hear elsewhere?
Burgard: Ashli Babbitt wasn’t only a 14-year military veteran, she was a law enforcement specialist. She had served her country on some very difficult situations in Iraq. She had been previously injured, seriously. She knew what was going on that day. She was there.
Not only, she went there as someone to support her president. She was very excited about the day. You’ll see in the film, she was streaming her thoughts as she was walking toward the Capitol.
But in that moment, the footage that we have of her that we’ve since found, you can see she’s acting as a law enforcement professional, telling these young cops that I’m sure had much less experience than she did, she’s like, “You need backup in here. There’s a force of people coming. You need to get help now.”
And there’s a guy named Zachary Alam. If you see the footage in the movie, this is the guy that’s trying to break the window. He’s leading the violence against the Capitol. He’s got a military helmet and he’s trying to crack the glass with the military helmet. He’s hitting it with everything he can.
In this other angle that we have, you see Ashli Babbitt grab him. He jerks away from her. She grabs him again, and she throws a left hook into his face and actually knocks his glasses off. This is mere seconds before she gets shot.
As a law enforcement professional, I mean, Aaron thinks, and I agree with him, that due to her claustrophobia and due to the situation getting more and more out of hand, he thinks she actually might have gone through that window trying to escape or get to a better vantage point to try to stop the violence.
In any case, as a law enforcement professional, she knows the procedure for that you follow before use of deadly force, the use of deadly force continuum. She knew as a military law enforcement personnel what the Capitol Police training was, and they did not do their job.
There was no vocal warning. There was no visible presence. There was no use of nonlethal force. So the last thing that woman thought as she was going through that window was, “I’m going to get shot for doing this.”
You look at the footage of [Lt. Michael] Byrd and how he handled his weapon, that was not a professional.
Bluey: I want to ask you both about a couple of the families who are featured in the film. Let’s start with Tony Martinez. You’ve been able to pull some of the actual footage of the FBI raiding Tony’s home. You spoke to Tony and his teenage daughter. Nick, what was that like, hearing from this 13-year-old girl about the experience of having her home raided?
Searcy: It’s heartbreaking. I mean, they basically terrorized and traumatized [this] family. And by treating them, like I said, like they were hardened criminals. These are decent, hardworking Americans, church-going people, never been arrested for anything before. A man and his wife and three children, and they threatened to break down his door and then literally break the sliding glass door in the back.
And Tony and his daughter Isabelle were frantically trying to get them to pause long enough for them to control the family dog. And because the dog was traumatized, of course, and they couldn’t control the dog, the dog ran away, was gone for a week.
And they pulled this 13-year-old girl out of the house and handcuffed her on the sidewalk, and it’s nonsensical. You can’t explain why they would do this in any other way than they are intentionally trying to traumatize people. And it’s heartbreaking to hear them tell the story.
Bluey: Nick, the other family that you interviewed was Derek Kinnison and his daughter, and you have footage from the Ring doorbell camera, essentially that you include in the film, and what’s Derek’s story?
Searcy: Derek and Tony were friends and they went there together. They felt called to go and they were there with first-aid gear. Basically, they had received some reports on the internet that there might be some Antifa presence there, and they wanted to be there to be present to help people.
There are no weapons. They weren’t carrying anything except first-aid gear. And Derek was treated much the same way as Tony. And when you see the footage of the armored vehicles, it’s surreal. It looks like something in a crazy, futuristic movie, or something that you might see in the streets of Afghanistan.
It looks like a raid. A raid on a terrorist is what it looks like. They’ve got armored vehicles, battering rams, 20 SWAT team members. Derek said, when he stepped out of his house, there were red dots all over his chest. He’s got his hands up. It’s surreal. It looks like a raid on a terrorist camp.
Bluey: Chris, let me ask you this question, because we are just about to embark on the Jan. 6 committee set up by [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi, stacked with Democrats and a couple of Republicans who are Republican in name only. And they are presenting a narrative that is quite different from what we’ve just heard you and Nick talk about. As Americans see coverage of these hearings, what are some of the things you want them to remember and think about in the context of the film that you’ve made?
Burgard: I would like them to know that everything the J6 committee is pushing is a lie. Everything that they’re telling you is a lie.
If the J6 community was, congressional committee was interested in the truth, they would’ve subpoenaed somebody like Millie Weaver, who is an investigative journalist, who has a track record of infiltrating groups and providing information to the Capitol Police and to Secret Service, and the FBI that has been used in actionable law enforcement actions to protect senators like Lindsey Graham and other VIP personnel.
Before this film, she had infiltrated a call that had not only far-left groups planning an event just like this that was carried out, but on that call were actually members of our own government.
Now, that footage is in the movie. Why don’t they subpoena her and bring her in so that she can show the evidence that she brought up that was never used? Why don’t they subpoena the foreign Isabelle, the 13-year-old girl that was dragged out of her bed and handcuffed? How about her 4- and 7-year-old brothers and sisters that are still completely suffering from PTSD from being woken up with flashbangs and having their door smashed in?
These are what I’d like America to see, is the whole story, the real story. They’re not getting that. They’re getting a false narrative.
Basically, you’re seeing one of the biggest psy-ops this country’s ever gone through. And the congressional committee in tandem with the fake news media is working hand and foot to bring this fiction and push it into the minds of the American people. I’d like to see the truth.
Bluey: Will there be a point when Americans say, “Enough is enough. We’ve watched ‘Capitol Punishment.’ We’ve read other sources. We’ve read Julie Kelly’s book. We’re not standing for this anymore”? When will that moment come?
Searcy: I think that moment has to come when somebody in the Republican Party stands up for these victims. So far we haven’t had anybody, very few people. Maybe [Reps.] Marjorie Taylor Greene, Louie Gohmert, Matt Gaetz, maybe a few others have really tried to call attention to the fact that these people are not only being held in jail, in D.C. jails for misdemeanor charges, for month after month after month with their trials continually pushed forward, but also that the people who have been awaiting trial now for over 18 months or almost 18 months, they keep having their adjudications continued and everything because the government wants to bleed them out.
The government is trying to bleed these people of their resources and make them so desperate that they just accept a plea deal just to get it over with. And it is so criminal, so wrong what is happening to these people. We need someone, even if it’s President Trump himself, we need someone to stand up for these prisoners and these people that are being tortured. And until that happens, until the Jan. 6 committee is given all this legitimacy; treated, taken seriously—
The Jan. 6 committee is a clown show. It is a joke. It is there simply to draw this out so that they can try to use it for the narrative on the next election to say, “We’ve got to stop these evil white supremacists, these domestic terrorists,” blah, blah, blah.
There’s no truth in it whatsoever. And until our side stands up and forcefully calls it out, I don’t see it ending anytime soon. And if it actually does impact the election and it works for them, they’re never going to let it go.
Bluey: Let me ask you this as we start to wrap-up here. Chris, I’ll begin with you. This was obviously a massive undertaking on your part and Nick, and so many of the other people who were involved in making “Capitol Punishment,” what was it that motivated you to devote the time to doing this?
Burgard: My kids love for this country. Nick and I could not stand to sit and see this day in history stolen. Somebody had to tell the truth and that’s what we did. And this is now the most censored movie in America.
There’s a reason why the Silicon Valley algorithms and the mainstream media have done everything they can to cover this film up, because this film completely destroys the false Jan. 6 narrative. It completely destroys the agenda of the J6 commission. The Democrats are going to double down on J6. And it’s been working for them.
I mean, people on our side are so afraid to be branded as violent insurrectionist, they won’t look at the truth. This movie completely destroys their agenda. The Democrats are going to double down on this all the way through the 2020 elections. And with what I’ve seen, them abuse the law to average citizens, I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to charge Trump with something else so that instead of running for a fair election in 2024, he’s fighting off some sort of indictments.
The abuse I’ve seen of our legal system in this film is incredible. My dad went to the 109 Session, FBI Academy. My dad was law enforcement. He must be rolling over in his grave with the abuse of power that’s been going on legally here.
The truth is the only thing that will beat this. And if there’s a tipping point of truth, of enough people see with their own eyes what happened that day, everything falls apart. Big shifts, big things happen, big doors open on very small hinges.
And the hinge that makes everything fall apart is Jan. 6, because people can see with their own eyes what really happened that day. They can see with their own eyes what our government is doing to innocent Americans and to small children. And they will stand up and they will say, “This should not be happening in the United States America. This is Third World. This is what happened in the revolutions in Venezuela, in Ukraine, in Egypt. It put the Muslim Brotherhood in power. That same thing should not be happening in America, but it just did.”
Bluey: Nick, I’ll give you the last word here. What was it about this day and your being involved there that led you to embark on a project like this, to tell the story of Jan. 6 from this perspective?
Searcy: Well, to be honest, I must say, at the beginning I was reluctant because I was scared. And so many of the people that we talk to, we interview a number of people in the movie, but there’s an equal number, if not more, that were afraid to speak to us.
Because when you see the way the government is treating these people, it makes you wonder, “Is it worth it?” But as we kind of got going, and Chris and I, “OK, we’re going to make this movie,” and we started talking to people as it went on, it became something that I knew I had to do. We had to finish this. We had to see it through. …
I was appalled at my own government and I really never wanted to think this. I never wanted to think that this is what my government is like, but it is. And we have to expose it. We have to get the truth out there and people need to confront it.
I’ve always said from the beginning, even if you disagree with us, please, would you just please watch this movie and tell me if you think this is the way Americans should be treated, no matter what side they’re on.
Even if they were there protesting a Republican president, do you think this is correct? Do you think this is the way our government should operate? And a lot of the problem that we have is a lot of people on the left, they’re afraid to look at it. They don’t want to see the movie. They call it propaganda. They’re just afraid to look at something that might disturb their worldview.
But I really believe that if more people will confront the truth of what happened about Jan. 6 and see through the government’s lies, we’re all going to be better off for it. We can still save this country, but people have to confront the truth of what is actually happening right in front of their faces.
Bluey: And what’s the best way for our listeners to watch the film?
Searcy: Right now, there’s a number of places, but the best one right now is: Go to givemelibertynow.org. … And you can also find it at capitolpunishmentthemovie.com. Both those places, the movie’s available.
Bluey: We will be sure to include links to those, both in the transcript of this interview and the notes for this podcast. As somebody who’s watched it myself, I’m certainly grateful that you’ve given us the time today to explain what motivated you to make the movie, and also why you are so passionate about telling those stories of the Americans who’ve suffered as a result.
Searcy: Thank you, Rob.
Burgard: Thanks for having us on, Rob.
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