Georgian among 11 charged with sedition in new Jan. 6 indictment

Stewart Rhodes, founder of the citizen militia group known as the Oath Keepers speaks during a rally outside the White House in Washington. Rhodes has been arrested and charged with seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The Justice Department announced the charges against Rhodes on Thursday.  (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
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Stewart Rhodes, founder of the citizen militia group known as the Oath Keepers speaks during a rally outside the White House in Washington. Rhodes has been arrested and charged with seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The Justice Department announced the charges against Rhodes on Thursday. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Credit: Susan Walsh

Credit: Susan Walsh

Eleven purported members of the far-right Oath Keepers, including a south Georgia man, have been charged with seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot under a new indictment released by the U.S. Department of Justice Thursday.

The indictment, which also includes Oath Keepers founder and Texas resident Stewart Rhodes, alleges the defendants conspired “to oppose by force the lawful transfer of presidential power,” a plot Justice officials say “included multiple ways to deploy force.”

The new indictment is a significant step for a Justice Department that has been criticized for not charging any of the more than 725 people arrested in the investigation with sedition. Investigators had instead charged defendants with more ordinary crimes, like assaulting police officers or entering a restricted area.

The charge of seditious conspiracy specifically relates to plots to overthrow the government, “prevent, hinder or delay the execution of any law of the United States,” or “seize, take or possess any property of the United States.”

Included among the indicted co-conspirators is 44-year-old Brian Ulrich of Guyton, a city with a population of about 2,100 northwest of Savannah in Effingham County. Ulrich was arrested last August as part of the Oath Keepers investigation, one of the largest and most complex cases in the sweeping Jan. 6 investigation.

Ulrich’s attorney declined to comment on the new indictment.

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Brian Ulrich, 44 of Guyton, is charged with 10 other alleged Oath Keepers, with seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot investigation.

Credit: Effingham County Sheriff's Office

Brian Ulrich, 44 of Guyton, is charged with 10 other alleged Oath Keepers, with seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot investigation.
caption arrowCaption
Brian Ulrich, 44 of Guyton, is charged with 10 other alleged Oath Keepers, with seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot investigation.

Credit: Effingham County Sheriff's Office

Credit: Effingham County Sheriff's Office

“They coordinated travel across the country to enter Washington, D.C., equipped themselves with a variety of weapons, donned combat and tactical gear, and were prepared to answer Rhodes’s call to take up arms at Rhodes’s direction,” the indictment charges.

All of the defendants, except Rhodes, had been indicted on other charges before Thursday. According to the indictment, Rhodes started using encrypted chats to conspire with members of his organization just two days after the presidential election.

“We aren’t getting through this without a civil war,” Rhodes allegedly wrote. Two days later, prosecutors say Rhodes sent out step-by-step instructions on overthrowing the government, using the 2000 overthrow of Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic as a guide.

According to the indictment, there were more planning calls, a reconnaissance trip to Washington, D.C, training sessions, and efforts to recruit others. On Dec. 14, Rhodes allegedly created a chat called “Oath Keepers of Georgia” using the encrypted messaging app Signal to which Ulrich allegedly responded “Well I’m not a soldier but I’m focused and I stayed at a holiday inn once! So it’s game on time!!”

On Dec. 22, prosecutors say Rhodes urged a “massive bloody revolution” if Biden became president.

Prosecutors claim Ulrich took part in a Signal planning chat on Dec. 31 where they allegedly discussed bringing firearms to the D.C. area.

“I will be the guy running around with the budget AR,” Ulrich wrote, according to the indictment, referring to an assault-style rifle.

A day later, Ulrich, one of 17 Georgians charged over the past year in the Jan. 6 attack, allegedly messaged a co-defendant about bringing guns and stashing them in Virginia.

The indictment says some members of the alleged conspiracy waited with firearms outside Washington, D.C., for a call to enter as a “quick reaction force” to stop the counting of electoral ballots and prevent Joe Biden from becoming president.

During the riot, the defendants are accused of entering the Capitol in military “stack” formations. Ulrich is said to have entered the Capitol in the second of two stacks, although he only stayed inside for about 10 minutes before leaving to meet up with other members of the Oath Keepers, the indictment claims.

Historian and extremism expert Kathleen Belew said on Twitter that the charges are the first time the Justice Department has charged seditious conspiracy in more than 30 years.

In that 1988 case, prosecutors charged 13 white power activists in Ft. Smith, Ark., with conspiring to overthrow the federal government. All were found not guilty.

That case “has a lot to tell us about the things that can go wrong in a high stakes prosecution like this,” Belew tweeted Thursday.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland did not release a statement with the new indictments, but some pointed to his remarks given last week to mark the one-year anniversary of the Capitol attack.

“In complex cases, initial charges are often less severe than later charged offenses. This is purposeful, as investigators methodically collect and sift through more evidence,” Garland said.

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