A Chicago activist who allegedly declared “we are patriots” amid the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol breach is the latest Illinois resident charged in connection with the riot that led to what prosecutors have described as likely the largest criminal investigation in U.S. history.
Larry Ligas, 62, was arrested in Chicago Wednesday morning. He is charged with entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly conduct in a Capitol building; and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.
The charges are misdemeanors.
A 12-page criminal complaint alleges that Ligas spent eight minutes wandering around the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Jan. 6, and that a tipster reached out to tell the feds Ligas had been quoted by name in a National Public Radio article about the breach.
“We’re not moving on… We are not Republicans. We are the MAGA party. We are patriots,” Ligas was quoted as saying. He also said he was a Democrat before then-President Donald Trump “earned” his vote, according to the article.
An email address associated with Ligas responded to a request for comment Wednesday night by saying: “Chicago is dealing with a pandemic of violent crime and epic corruption and the US Justice Department is chasing down law-abiding Patriots.”
Ligas is a longtime political activist in Logan Square with a history of complaining about street gangs and their interference in city politics. A federal magistrate judge ordered his release on his own recognizance during a court hearing Wednesday.
Ligas also appears to have a tie to the gubernatorial campaign of Republican state Sen. Darren Bailey, whose campaign website names Ligas as a contact for an October fundraiser at McGonigal’s Pub in Barrington. The number listed for Ligas on Bailey’s website is also listed in the federal complaint, which includes an affidavit from an FBI special agent.
Bailey campaign spokesman Joe DeBose said in a statement the campaign is “shocked by this news and we do not condone any illegal activities.”
“[Ligas] has never been a member of our campaign staff,” DeBose said. “We support law and order and trust the court system to ensure anyone breaking the law is held accountable for their actions.”
The complaint points to a YouTube video livestreamed on Jan. 5 by a user named “Political Trance Tribune” and titled “Lots of cops downtown Washington DC.” A screenshot of that video appears in the document, and it depicts a man wearing an American-flag scarf alleged to be Ligas.
The document also alleges that Ligas can be seen on footage from inside the Capitol on Jan. 6 wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat, a blue jacket, a light-blue surgical mask, beige-and-black hiking shoes and the American-flag scarf. It says he can be seen holding a cellphone while inside the Capitol.
The complaint indicates that someone using Ligas’ name and phone number called the FBI National Threat Operations Center to report voter fraud in March and April 2019. It also says that an FBI special agent interviewed Ligas as a witness in a separate matter in October 2017 and has identified him as the person in footage from the Rotunda.
Ligas is at least the 18th individual from Illinois charged in connection with the Capitol breach that interrupted the Electoral College vote count and led to the arrests of hundreds of people across the country. Bradley Rukstales of Inverness pleaded guilty to his role in the breach in August and was sentenced last month to 30 days in jail. Two Downstate men, Bruce Harrison and Douglas Wangler, have also pleaded guilty to their role in the event.
Contributing: Frank Main, Rachel Hinton