Over six months ago a mob of pro-Trump fanatics stormed the U.S. Capitol building in an attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. According to initial reports, at least 140 officers were injured by insurrectionists who wielded stun guns, bear mace, bats, and collapsible batons.
And since the events of Jan. 6 at least four officers — Jeffrey Smith, Howard Liebengood, Gunther Hashida, and Kyle DeFreytag — have also tragically died by suicide.
Like all aspects of that day, these deaths have been the subject of conspiracy theories. Last week, antisemite and white nationalist propagandist Vincent James Foxx — who attended the Jan. 6 rally — suggested that these four police officers might have been murdered in order to advance a cover-up.
In an Aug. 4, 2021 video, Foxx falsely claimed that “it was the FBI who set [Jan. 6] up.” Foxx cited as evidence an article by The New York Times about a watchdog report which suggested the Capitol Police “had clearer advance warnings” about the “potential for violence” on Jan. 6.
According to the Times, the report found that “the agency’s leaders failed to adequately prepare despite explicit warnings that pro-Trump extremists posed a threat to law enforcement and civilians,” and that “the leaders ordered their Civil Disturbance Unit to refrain from using its most powerful crowd-control tools.”
It noted that a Capitol Police intelligence assessment three days before the Jan. 6 attack “warned of violence” from Trump supporters “who believed his false claims that the election had been stolen,” and that a map of the Capitol’s tunnel system circulated on pro-Trump message boards.
While the report highlighted an obvious intelligence failure, it did not offer evidence that the insurrection was “set up” by the FBI. There is no evidence to suggest that federal agents organized or encouraged the violent assault on the Capitol.
Foxx asked why the Capitol Police were “understaffed that day” and who told them “not to use certain tactics at quelling the crowd that they would use during a riot.” Moving on to the deaths of the four police officers, Foxx implied that they might have died because they knew something sinister.
“And then lastly, and most importantly, what did these police officers know?” Foxx asked. “What were these police officers going to say? Going to do? What information did they have? Why are their suicides coming months after this happened?”
Foxx added that “If you think that this is like legitimate, you’re retarded. I mean there’s really nothing else I can say.” While reading from a Guardian article about the death of Officer Kyle DeFreytag, he suggested that DeFreytag and the other officers didn’t die by suicide but were instead murdered.
“In some cases these people, they take their own life by handcuffing themselves behind their back and hanging themselves, or shooting themselves in the back of the head twice or three times,” he said. “This is typically how these situations happen.”
He also mocked the idea that police officers who spent several years on the force would die by suicide after the events of Jan. 6.
“A lot of these guys saw a lot worse things than what they saw on January 6 — this tragic event, it was unbearable,” Foxx said.
“It was obviously so unbearable that they committed suicide. That was so unbearable, what they saw on January 6 where no one died aside from Ashli Babbitt who was shot by one of their own. It was so unbearable to them that they committed suicide.”
(Ashli Babbitt was not the only person who died during the Jan. 6 insurrection.)
He then compared the Jan. 6 attack to the anti-war group Code Pink, whose members once interrupted a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing but did not engage in acts of violence in order to suggest that Capitol Police had seen worse things than Jan. 6.
“I mean you go back to Code Pink, okay, go back to Code Pink, go back to some of these left-wing protests that have occurred where they stormed the federal Capitol building like every day — Code Pink was doing it like every day,” he said.
“And to be fair it didn’t turn into what it turned into on January 6,” he conceded. “But, I mean, really? You really think that this is legitimate? You really think that they committed suicide because what they saw on January 6 was so unbearable to them?”
But while the claim that four police officers were murdered as part of some nefarious plot is easy to dismiss, Foxx and other members of the “groyper” movement have begun making inroads with the fringes of the Republican Party.
In January he was invited to speak at ASU by the extremist group College Republicans United. And Rep. Paul Gosar — who, along with Foxx, spoke at the white nationalist AFPAC gathering in February — retweeted Foxx in late July and early August.