Does influence have more power than authority? Disapproval may start a protest, but it takes a few words to turn into a full-blown riot. Undoubtedly, a man with power can influence a legion, but can an ordinary man have the same capacity?
January 6 Capitol riots started as an objection to the 2020 elections, where Trump supporters believed the election was unjust. Moreover, Trump’s tweet was in itself a trigger of the starting gun–
“Big protest in D.C. on January 6.”
“Be there, will be wild!”
Supporters gathered in massive numbers outside the U.S. Capitol. Some wanted to protest, some had rage, and the rest followed suit. Anti-government groups, vigilante squads, ardent supporters, and many more different arrays of people were present on the unfateful day.
Amongst them stood a man in a Khaki camouflage outfit and donned a red Trump hat. Yet somehow, the 62-year-old Trump Supporter became the face of a massive conspiracy theory for one of the worst riots in U.S. history.
Ray Epps is a one-time Trump supporter who runs a business providing services for a wedding venue in Phoenix, Arizona. Epps is a former U.S. Marine who joined the gathering at the U.S. Capitol in support of Donald Trump to protest peacefully, so he claims. However, a video surfaced that showed Epps around a group of people who were the first ones to break the barricade and encroach on the government property. According to popular right-wing conspiracy theory, Ray Epps was planted on January 6 by the FBI to provoke and instigate the riots. The other evidence to substantiate this possibility was that Epps once held a leadership position with “Oath Keepers.”
Who Is Ray Epps?
Ray Epps is an ordinary man from Phoenix, Arizona. He owns a ranch on the outskirts, which he doubles down as a wedding venue. He was a former U.S. Marine with strong patriotic, traditional American values. Subsequently, he believed that Trump exemplified these values and eventually became his supporter.
Epps also joined a far-right extremist group called Oath Keepers. Within a few years, his firm opinions and staunch support earned him the position of Arizona Chapter leader.
However, Epps claims that he eventually experienced too many differences and found the group to be “too radical,” because of which he parted ways with the group only a few years before the Jan.6 riots.
What Did Ray Epps Do?
As per video evidence, Ray Epps was spotted on January 6 during the rally. He was also present on January 5, where he was apparently heard saying–
“In fact, tomorrow … we need to go into the Capitol.”
When confronted about why he said this, Epps explained, “The only thing that [I] meant is we would go in the doors like everyone else. It was totally, totally wrong the way they went in.”
On January 6, the gathering started as a rally, where people expressed their disapproval of Joe Biden’s election as the president over Trump.
However, the first spark of the fire began with a mob that attacked the capitol, breaking the external barriers at the Peach Circle. Guess who was captured on camera standing there. Ray Epps was towering over the mob, while some believed that he coaxed the people to do so. However, there are no confirmed reports on these allegations.
The Man At January 6 Conspiracy Theory Explained
A conspiracy theory started floating around that suggested that Ray Epps was appointed secretly by the FBI to instigate the riots under the pretext of a peaceful rally.
A right-wing website, Revolver first ignited this theory with two articles–
- “Meet Ray Epps: The Fed-Protected Provocateur Who Appears to Have Led The Very First 1/6 Attack On The U.S. Capitol” (published on October 25)
- “Meet Ray Epps, Part 2: Damning New Details Emerge Exposing Massive Web of Unindicted Operators At The Heart Of January 6” (published on December 18).
Since the article, the Republicans kept the flame alive as Fox News harped on this conspiracy theory as much as they could. Even Tucker Carlson, in his usual style, milked the possibility that Epps could be a government agent who pre-planned this insurrection.
Moreover, these theories were endorsed by big political names, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.)
The director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation told the lawmakers investigating Epps–
“I will say this notion that somehow the violence at the Capitol on January 6 was part of some operation orchestrated by FBI sources and agents is ludicrous.”
The FBI and the House select committee analyzed Epps’s case. They told the Washinton Post that Epps said–“he was not employed by, working with, or acting at the direction of any law enforcement agency on Jan. 5 or 6th or at any other time, and that he has never been an informant for the FBI or any other law enforcement agency.”
However, Epps has been charged for disorderly conduct.
Meanwhile, the only person with the harshest and the longest sentence for the Capitol attack, Enrique Tarrio, was not even present at the site of the riots.
What is your verdict on this case? Do you think Ray Epps is guilty of instigating the mob? Do you believe the conspiracy theory that Epps is a Fed?
Let us know in the comments section below.