Six Western Pennsylvanians charged for Capitol insurrection; state ranks second among total arrested | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Six Western Pennsylvanians charged for Capitol insurrection; state ranks second among total arrested

click to enlarge Armed National Guardsmen on security detail at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 19
Armed National Guardsmen on security detail at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 19
Even though Pennsylvanians voted to elect President Joe Biden in 2020, the state still has plenty of fervent supporters of Donald Trump. Just take a drive through many rural and exurban parts of the state, including many sections of Western Pennsylvania, and it’s easy to spot Trump signs still in yards, even after the election. (“Trump 2020: Make Liberals Cry Again” signs seem particularly popular.)

And it appears among those supporters are people so fervent, they were willing to break federal and local laws in the name of Trump.

So far, Pennsylvania has the second most residents charged in connection to January’s insurrection on the U.S. Capitol of any state in the country. Twenty Pennsylvanians have so far been charged with federal and local offenses, according to NPR’s tracker and news reports. Only Texas, with at least 23 residents charged, has more among U.S. states.

Of those 20 Pennsylvanians, six hail from Western Pennsylvania. All of the Western Pennsylvanians have been charged by federal law enforcement officials. They include:

  • Peter Schwartz: Lives in Fayette County and is accused of spraying Capitol Police officers with mace.
  • Rachel Powell: From Mercer County and was recognized on video wearing a pink hat and directing rioters through a bullhorn as they ransacked the seat of the U.S. government, according to federal law enforcement officials.
  • Kenneth Grayson: From Bridgeville and was live-streaming himself participating in the insurrection, according to the FBI.
  • Jordan Mink: From South Fayette Township and is accused using a baseball bat to break a window in the Capitol.
  • Matthew Perna: From Sharon in Mercer County and is charged with entering a restricted building and disorderly conduct.
  • Russell James Peterson: From Rochester in Beaver County and is charged with knowingly entering a restricted building, disorderly conduct, disruptive conduct in the Capitol Buildings, and other offenses.

Dozens of Pennsylvania Republican officials have played a role in perpetuating the falsehood that the 2020 election was stolen. U.S. Rep Guy Reschenthaler (R-Peters) signed onto a failed Texas lawsuit that sought to invalidate the ballots of millions of voters in Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Former congressional candidate Sean Parnell (R-Ohio Township) and U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Butler) sued Pennsylvania in an attempt to invalidate millions of mail-in voters. That suit was rejected by state and federal courts.

State Republican lawmakers also contributed by signing letters after the election objecting to the state’s election results, even though those results meant their re-election. State Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin), who organized buses to take people to D.C. the day of the insurrection, and former state Rep. Rick Saccone (R-Elizabeth) were present at a demonstration near the Capitol grounds, shortly before the rioters entered the grounds and building.

Last week, Pennsylvania state Democrats called for investigations into Republicans potential role in encouraging Pennsylvanians participation in the Capitol insurrection.

“While not every GOP elected official attended the insurrection in Washington, hundreds are complicit in spreading the lies that inspired their supporters to riot in front of the entire world,” said state Rep. Leanne Krueger (D-Delaware) on Feb. 11, according to the Pennsylvania Capital-Star.

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