A federal judge has ordered an accused Capitol rioter to remain jailed after the suspect’s lawyer was unable to convince the court that his client was not a threat to Black people.
Prosecutors argued that the menacing social media activity of a racist nature from Samuel Lazar, who is facing felony charges for his alleged role at the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, as a reason for the 35-year-old Pennsylvania man to stay behind bars, local news outlet Lancaster Online reported.
Lazar is charged with assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers — a felony — as well as obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder and knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds. The FBI arrested him back in July after receiving a tip pointing them to his Facebook page which, according to the federal complaint, showed “photos of LAZAR dressed in tactical gear” and “photos of LAZAR around the Capitol building.”
But, apparently, that’s not all the Feds saw on Lazar’s Facebook page.
While the federal complaint noted that “A posting to LAZAR’s Facebook profile shows LAZAR in the same distinctive clothing he wore at the Capitol on January 6,” Lancaster Online also reported that federal prosecutors cited racist posts from Lazar to his account.
One post, in particular, reportedly saw Lazar encouraging “euthanizing every Antifa, BLM (Black Lives Matter) member.” Lazar also reportedly “called for a revolution” and wanted to “drag every last one of the Democrats and DNC members out of their offices and homes, and publicly execute them for their crimes against this Country and its citizens.” Prosecutors said both of those are death threats, for all intents and purposes.
Lazar’s lawyer reportedly took umbrage at prosecutors suggesting his client is a racist.
“The government, in its zeal to deny Mr. Lazar his liberty, has in fact jeopardized his physical safety,” David Benowitz, wrote in a court filing responding to the prosecution’s allegations. “To be clear, Mr. Lazar has no specific animosity towards Black people and is not a threat to their safety – and there is no evidence to support such a claim.”
Benowitz made no mention of Lazar’s threat to law enforcement, something that prosecutors also said is a distinct possibility in part because of the “open source video” showing him approaching “a line of police barricades on the west front of the U.S. Capitol where he aimed a cannister of what appeared to be a chemical irritant in the direction of U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) and Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officers,” as the official DOJ press release about his arrest states.
There is also bodycam footage showing that “Lazar walked along a police line around 1:13 p.m. and grabbed a bike rack, in an apparent attempt to remove it, while discharging a chemical irritant from the cannister in his other hand.”
After an officer “deployed a chemical irritant” against Lazar, he “turned to face an officer and redeployed his chemical irritant, causing another officer to lose the ability to see.” Thee Feds say there is video footage showing Lazar admitting, “They maced us, those tyrannical pieces of s***, and we maced them right the f*** back and now they’re taking the building.”
The criminal complaint includes multiple photos and screenshots of Lazar at the Capitol doing everything they claim he did.
As of Wednesday, the FBI had arrested more than 600 people for their roles in the Capitol riots. Like Lazar, at least 185 of them have been charged with assaulting or obstructing law enforcement.