Still from a video taken at 4:34 p.m. on Jan. 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol. Colorado “election integrity” activist Shawn Smith is at right in the gray cap and black jacket. (Via ProPublica)
Shawn Smith, a prominent Colorado Springs-based election-denial activist, appears in a video from the Jan. 6 insurrection among a violent group of rioters engaged in a clash with police outside the U.S. Capitol.
Smith does not appear to directly engage with officers in the 39-second video, but he is seen to position himself just behind the front line of dozens of supporters of former President Donald Trump who are part of a chaotic physical confrontation with a phalanx of law enforcement officers in riot gear.
The video is among more than 500 videos published by ProPublica in a compilation drawn from files posted by users of the social media platform Parler. Newsline’s Quentin Young reviewed every video available in the ProPublica compilation.
A Newsline journalist contacted Smith by phone Wednesday morning and stated that the outlet was preparing to publish a story about him appearing in a video from the insurrection. The journalist specified that the video depicted a violent clash between rioters and police at about 4:30 p.m. on the side of the Capitol and that he appeared in the video. Smith declined to answer questions by phone and requested the journalist submit questions by email. Smith did not dispute that it is he in the video. The journalist emailed questions to Smith, who had not responded by the time of publication.
Smith is a key figure in election-denial activities in Colorado and other states. He is president of Cause of America, which is funded by Trump ally and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell with the goal of coordinating “election integrity” activities in all 50 states, animated by the “big lie” that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. He works with U.S. Election Integrity Plan, a Colorado-based election-denial organization that leading Republican candidate for Colorado governor Heidi Ganahl has promoted. He is an ally of Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, who is under investigation for her alleged involvement in an election system security breach in her own office. Elbert County Clerk Dallas Schroeder said Smith helped him make a copy of his office’s election system hard drive in an act the Colorado secretary of state said was a possible security breach.
At one point on Jan. 6 in Washington, D.C., Smith accompanied Colorado state Rep. Ron Hanks, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate who also claims the 2020 election was illegitimate. Hanks is seen in a photo that can be found on his campaign website standing next to Smith at the Jan. 6 pro-Trump rally. Hanks said during an interview with Newsline on Tuesday that he met up with Smith at the rally — Smith “tracked me down,” Hanks said. Hanks indicated that he was not with Smith at other times during the afternoon. He declined to comment on the ProPublica video.
The video was made at 4:34 p.m., apparently as law enforcement officers were attempting to clear rioters from what appears to be the side of the Capitol. Roughly halfway through the video a person identical in appearance to the man Hanks identified as Smith in the photo from the rally — in a gray cap, black jacket and a red-white-and-blue scarf — appears amid the mob. Throughout the video, rioters, some yelling “traitor! traitor!” battle police officers, who fight back with shields and batons.
Smith in November appeared in a video call that Peters also joined. During the call Smith endorsed violence as a legitimate response to objectionable government activity.
“I have no desire whatsoever for violence, but I promise you that people in the country are not going to go down,” he said. “There’s not going to be a tyrannical regime that stays in power. Only they’ll recognize their limits under the law and this will be walked back or it’s going to get very dangerous. And it’s going to be dangerous all around. I hope it doesn’t come to that, but if they think this is going to end somehow in surrender from the people, they’re all wrong about that.”
Smith appears to have alluded to Jan. 6 for the first time on his Facebook on Feb. 12, 2021, in a post that fires back at “everyone who’s sure that Pres. Trump promoted violence and divisiveness.” Three days later in a Facebook post he wrote, “What kind of ‘insurrection’ sings the National Anthem, marches 1.5 miles through the Capital without setting a single fire or breaking a single window, stops the vandals breaking Capitol windows and, despite being 100,000+ strong and the most well-armed demographic on the planet, doesn’t fire a single shot?” He does not appear to have mentioned his own activities on Jan. 6.
On Tuesday, Smith was a guest on Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast to defend Peters.
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