A Minnesota politician has promoted a fundraiser for several constituents who are charged with participation in the deadly 6 January attack on the US Capitol, saying they come from a “good family”.
The Republican state senator Mark Koran, who represents the town of Lindström, made this entreaty for the Westbury family in a Facebook post on Friday.
Four members of the Westbury family are accused of participating in the insurrection, comprising half of all Minnesotans charged for alleged involvement.
“Here’s a local family in Lindström who can use some help. They attended the Jan 6th Rally and have been accused and charged with a variety of crimes. Some very serious and some which seem to be just to punish opposing views,” Koran wrote. “All I’m asking is that they need assistance to mount a fair defense from an over bearing Dept of Justice. They are a good family!”
It’s not clear whether Koran is calling the storming of Congress, when thousands broke in, attempting to stop lawmakers certifying Joe Biden’s victory over Trump, simply a “rally” or whether he is conflating the riot with the rally held prior near the White House, at which Trump urged his supporters to march on the Capitol and try to overturn the election result.
More than 50 police officers were injured as they tried to stop the riot, some beaten and seriously hurt. Five people died during the storming, including a police officer. About 500 people have been charged in connection with the events. Donald Trump was impeached for a historic second time, charged with inciting the insurrection, although he was acquitted by the Senate.
Washington DC federal prosecutors charged Robert Westbury, Isaac Westbury, and Aaron James, alleging crimes such as assault on Capitol police officers and interfering with government operations.
The charges against them came in early October, about six months after another relative, Jonah Westbury, was charged for his alleged participation in the riot, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
The online fundraiser was launched by Rosemarie Westbury, who claims to be Robert Westbury’s wife and the mother of these other three men.
The fundraiser is called “Legal Fees 4 family fighting tyranny 4 you” and is posted on GiveSendGo, which bills itself as a Christian fundraising site. The Star Tribune appears to have first reported on Koran’s support of this fundraiser.
“First amendment, second amendment, right to privacy have been ripped away from our peaceful law abiding family. A million people attended January 6th for one purpose, and one purpose only to pray,” she wrote.
“My family is being targeted by this illigitimate (sic), tyrannical government...Please understand that we are the forerunners....What’s happening to us is coming to a Theatre near you,” she said, later writing: “We have an attorney who is willing to stand up for us, but this isn’t going to be an inexpensive endeavor.”
She hopes to raise $50,000. By Saturday morning, the fundraiser had received more than $1,000.
The Guardian has contacted the senator, who did not immediately respond.
Reached by phone on Saturday morning, Rosemarie Westbury said: “I don’t know how the Guardian is – I don’t know if you’re good guys or bad guys, so I don’t know what to say,” and deferred comment to attorney John Pierce, who represents numerous alleged Capitol rioters.
In a text message, Pierce commented: “All Americans accused of a crime have the constitutional right to receive a fair and unbiased trial. Unfortunately, the highly politicized nature of this event has made it very difficult for the Westbury family, Aaron James, and so many others involved to be rightly regarded as innocent until proven otherwise.”
“Lindstrom is a small town of less than 5,000 people, a hardworking American town. People in Lindstrom, just like almost everywhere else in America, don’t have the financial resources to defend themselves from the government in Washington DC,” Pierce also wrote. “Sen Koran’s role as a politician is to serve the public and in doing so he has opted to use his platform to make others aware of the plight of his constituents in Lindstrom. In this political climate, his public support is very brave.”