Sunday, 14 Jul 2024

Princeton Student Charged With Attacking Officers During Jan. 6 Riot

A Princeton University student was charged on Tuesday with being part of a violent mob that assaulted law enforcement officers during the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, federal prosecutors said.

The student, Larry F. Giberson Jr., was among a group of rioters who pushed against a phalanx of officers defending the Capitol at a tunnel entrance, according to an affidavit filed by a federal agent. With Mr. Giberson at the front of the crowd as the confrontation unfolded, one officer was briefly crushed between the rioters and the tunnel doors, the affidavit says.

Mr. Giberson, 21, waved other rioters into the tunnel and joined a second round of shoving against the officers, the affidavit says. He also tried, unsuccessfully, to start a chant of “Drag them out!” and cheered on others as they used weapons and pepper spray to attack the police guarding the tunnel, the affidavit says.

Mr. Giberson was charged in a criminal complaint filed in Federal District Court in Washington, D.C., with civil disorder, a felony, and several misdemeanors, including engaging in physical violence in a restricted building. He was arrested in Washington and released with conditions after an initial appearance before a federal magistrate judge.

A Princeton University spokesman confirmed that Mr. Giberson, of Manahawkin, N.J., was enrolled as a member of this year’s graduating class.

Understand the Events on Jan. 6

A university website lists Mr. Giberson as a James Madison Program undergraduate fellow for the 2022-23 academic year. The program, the website says, provides “a unique opportunity” for students to “pursue, outside of the classroom, academic interests related to politics, history, law and political thought.” Mr. Giberson could not be reached for comment. A lawyer representing him did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Giberson is among about 1,000 people to be charged in connection with the Jan. 6 riot, and one of more than 320 to be accused of assaulting or impeding law enforcement officers as supporters of former President Donald J. Trump stormed the Capitol in a bid to disrupt the certification of President Biden as the winner of the 2020 election.

Mr. Giberson can be seen in publicly available video footage wearing a blue “Make America Great Again” cap on his head and a Trump flag around his neck and climbing toward the tunnel entrance on the Capitol’s Lower West Terrace shortly after 3 p.m. the day of the riot, the affidavit says.

Once inside the tunnel, prosecutors said, Mr. Giberson and others tried to force their way in with a coordinated “heave-ho” pushing effort that left one officer crushed between a door and a rioter’s shield.

Officers eventually gained temporary control of the tunnel and pushed out rioters, including Mr. Giberson, prosecutors said. As the mob continued its attack, Mr. Giberson stood by and watched as one officer was dragged into the crowd, assaulted and injured, they said.

Federal investigators matched a photo of Mr. Giberson from the day of the riot with images posted on Instagram and the Princeton website, as well as with photos from his high school, the affidavit says.

He was subsequently interviewed at the Princeton Police Department, where he acknowledged being the person seen in videos and photos from the scene of the riot, the affidavit says.

The Daily Princetonian, a student newspaper, reported on Tuesday that Mr. Giberson publicly opposed the university’s decision in June 2020 to remove President Woodrow Wilson’s name from its public policy school and one of its residential colleges because of what Princeton leaders said were Mr. Wilson’s “racist thinking and policies.”

“If our university can be intimidated by the transient impulses of the mob mentality to disregard their own esteemed standards,” Mr. Giberson wrote in an essay in The Princeton Tory, “what guarantee is there that the university will stand firm against those who would seek to undermine the nation, or indeed, humanity itself?”

Sheelagh McNeill contributed research.

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