New video of Jan. 6 Capitol breach depicts disorder, disrespect, not violent insurrection

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The security camera videos — one of which has racked up over three million views on Twitter — were released under court order to 16 media organizations.

Five videos of the Jan. 6 Capitol breach released under court order last week by the Department of Justice to 16 media organizations capture a range of unauthorized, disorderly and sometimes disrespectful crowd activity that appears to fall short of widely propagated claims of violent insurrection.

The short video extracts are not conclusive, as they represent only a tiny fraction of the thousands of hours of security camera footage of the tumultuous events of that date recorded inside the Capitol Building.

U.S. District Chief Judge Beryl Howell ordered federal prosecutors to release the videos last week to the media organizations, including BuzzFeed News, which published the footage on Tuesday, with one video receiving over 3.3 million views on Twitter as of Friday evening.

The government had opposed the release of the videos, claiming they could “be used to track individual rioters moving through the building thereby creating a visual pathway which other bad-actors could use in planning their breach point and pathway for future attacks.”

Howell ruled that the government’s argument was “insufficient to overcome the public right of access” of the videos.

The five videos, totaling 33 minutes of closed-circuit video (CCV) footage from different locations and angles inside the Capitol, cover a span of about 15 minutes from 2:25 p.m. to 2:40 p.m.

Collectively, the videos depict a spectrum of group and individual behavior, ranging from rowdy, adrenaline-fueled disrespect for the setting and symbols of the citadel of American representative government, to much milling about by apparently aimless streams of election protesters behaving more like a motley herd of unsupervised political tourists than a threatening vanguard of seditionists.

In contrast to disturbing, widely viewed images of aggressive mobs swarming police lines outside the Capitol Building, these new videos from within the site reveal no significant conflict between protesters and Capitol Police.

The one-minute video with nearly three million views on Twitter shows people walking into the Capitol and climbing in through the windows, then meandering about, appearing to take pictures and video.

Three of the other videos show the Crypt of the Capitol, where people walk in and around the room, forming a crowd at one point, then dispersing and leaving the room.

By Natalia Mittelstadt

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