‘They can’t stop a million people’: Chicago man admits role in U.S. Capitol riot

Athanasios Zoyganeles wrote, “They are trying to remove Trump anyway they can.The people showed the government.That we will take u out if needed.”

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Authorities say this image depicts Athanasios Zoyganeles of Chicago smoking in the U.S. Capitol in Jan. 6, 2021.

Authorities say this image depicts Athanasios Zoyganeles of Chicago smoking in the U.S. Capitol in Jan. 6, 2021.

U.S. District Court records

A Chicago man who wrote “they can’t stop a million people” ahead of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol and later reacted to a separate fatal attack by writing “being a capital police officer is a dangerous job” has pleaded guilty, court records show.

Athanasios Zoyganeles was originally charged in February for his role in the U.S. Capitol riot, which led to what has been described as likely the largest criminal investigation in U.S. history. It also sparked a series of ongoing Congressional hearings.

On Friday, Zoyganeles pleaded guilty to parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building, a misdemeanor for which he could serve up to six months in prison, records show. His sentencing hearing has been set for Sept. 30.

Zoyganeles is one of 30 known Illinois residents who have been charged as a result of the investigation.

A document laying out the allegations against Zoyganeles says he began planning his trip to Washington, D.C., in December 2020. On Dec. 12, 2020 — five weeks after Joe Biden had been declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election — it said Zoyganeles wrote, “If biden gets elected.Thats when sh— gets real.I will be planning on going to Washington D.C. So much for my trip to Vegas but my country is more important 1/20/21.”

Ten days later, it said Zoyganeles wrote on Facebook, “This is what needs to happen in Washington D.C.on the 6th.just rush Capital hill.They can’t stop a million people.We the people are in charge.Not our evil government.”

On Dec. 26, 2020, it said Zoyganeles replied to someone online by writing, “hell no the game not over.The people are storming Washington D.C on the 6th.”

On Jan. 5 and 6, 2021, Zoyganeles made comments on Facebook about taking over the Capitol, according to the document. It said that, on Jan. 6, 2021, Zoyganeles walked up the stairs under the inaugural scaffolding toward the Capitol’s Parliamentarian doors. Before he entered, it said he stood on the stairs holding a piece of wood.

At 2:46 p.m. it said Zoyganeles entered the Capitol, smoked a cigarette, took videos and photos and entered certain rooms. He left the Capitol after about five minutes, it said.

Later that day, the document said, Zoyganeles bragged on Facebook “No im done i was teargassed maced and they were throwing flash bangs at me but I still stayed on the front lines.It wasn’t easy but we did it.”

On Jan. 7, 2021, Zoyganeles wrote on Facebook that “the only violence I saw was the cops shooting people with bean bags spraying mace.Releasing tear gas on the people and beating them with billyclubs,” according to the document. It also said that, the same day, Zoyganeles wrote, “They are trying to remove Trump anyway they can.The people showed the government.That we will take u out if needed.Are u happy?Your vote dont mean sh— no more.I don’t wanna hear garbage like that.”

On Jan. 15, 2021, Zoyganeles told another Facebook user his trip to Washington was “fun and exciting,” according to the document.

Finally, it said Zoyganeles posted to Facebook an article about a separate attack on the U.S. Capitol in which a man rammed a vehicle into a police barricade in April 2021. The incident left one U.S. Capitol Police officer dead.

Zoyganeles wrote, “Being a capital police officer is a dangerous job.Now that the people know.We have an evil government,” according to the court document.

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