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Majority of people charged with crimes in relation to U.S. Capitol insurrection found to be Texan

Samuel Corum/Getty Images

More than three dozen Texans have been arrested and charged with various crimes in connection with the January 6 insurrection at the U-S Capitol. That’s more than from almost any other state in the country.

Jenna Ryan is perhaps one of the best known Texans to breach the U-S Capitol. The Frisco real estate broker livestreamed herself on Facebook throughout the riot, and the video went viral.

“You woke up the sleeping giant! You’re trying to make us into Venezuela! You know what? We are armed and dangerous!” she said.

Ryan is one of over thirty Texans arrested in connection with the insurrection. They range in age from their early 20s to their mid-60s. They hail from Houston and Dallas, Lubbock and Midland. They include veterans, police officers, and Realtors -- people you might find in any Texas community.

“Jenna Ryan, although we’ve never met each other in person, I know who she is.”

Hava Johnston is another Frisco-based Realtor. She helped identify several of the rioters from their social media.

“…it wasn’t hard, you know, it came across my timeline.”

Johnston told me the type of people who stormed the Capitol, they’re her neighbors. She says many of them may have held far-right beliefs or conspiracy theories, but didn’t talk much about it.

“This isn’t anything new. They used to just be bugs under a rock. Donald Trump kicked that rock over,” she said.

Johnston says she saw signs of such activity as far back as the beginning of the Obama administration. But the roots go much deeper, according to Kerry Noble. He’s a former white supremacist and Christian nationalist who lives near Fort Worth. Noble has dedicated his life to spreading the word about the threats posed by extremism.

“Texas has always been one of the major states as far as right-wingers are concerned.”

Why? Noble says it’s a combination of factors. Texas has a strong gun culture and a deep streak of Christian fundamentalism. Then, there’s its history as a briefly independent nation.

“So, you’ve just got a history of people because of the independence that Texans feel, that when they start to feel pressured, they don’t just idly sit back…when they start feeling like government is coming against them, then they’re pretty quick to stand up.”

Other experts echo Noble’s conclusions. Brian Hughes is the associate director of PERIL, a research center at American University that tracks far-right extremism.

“Very frequently, what we see is the intersection of that ideology and culture, looking at an idealized version of the American founding and the American frontier, the role of the rugged individual, and the role of gun culture. Texas has a reputation of taking pride in all of those things.”

The majority of Texans arrested in the Capitol Riot appear to have been self-radicalized. But at least some of them had ties to organized militia groups like the Three Percenters. That’s no surprise to Lindsay Schubiner, a program director at the Western States Center.

“Texas also has 20 antigovernment groups including six paramilitary groups, and that’s a high number when you look at Texas compared to other states.”

Schubiner stresses that the attack on the Capitol likely was not a culmination of far-right activity, but a new beginning. She says that many individuals found themselves mixing with people from white nationalist groups for the first time. She says that, particularly in Texas, they’re likely to provide a deep pool of new recruits.

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