Two Oregonians charged in attack on U.S. Capitol released from pretrial custody
Two Oregonians charged with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., were released from pretrial custody Wednesday by separate judges.
Jonathanpeter Klein, 21, a self-proclaimed member of the Proud Boys, is set to be released Thursday. And Richard Harris, 40, was also released on bond to his father’s house in the Portland area.
Klein and his brother Matthew Leland Klein, 24, were indicted on six charges, ranging from conspiracy to destruction of government property, entering a restricted building and obstruction of law enforcement during a civil disorder. The charging document alleges Jonathanpeter Klein is a self-described member of the Proud Boys, far-right hate group that often engages in violence at protests and played a central role in the insurrection.
Like his brother, Matthew Klein was released last week on conditions including home detention and no use of social media.
The brothers participated in Proud Boy events in Oregon, according to photos included in the indictment and images gathered by OPB at protest events. Matthew Klein is currently facing misdemeanor charges in Multnomah County for possession of loaded firearms at a Sept. 26 Proud Boys rally in Portland — a fact that came up in Wednesday’s release hearing.
Federal prosecutors objected to the person designated to pick up Jonathanpeter Klein from the federal courthouse in Portland on Thursday because, they said, the person was named in Matthew Klein’s Sept. 26 police report.
“I think we’re going to need to find somebody else,” said U.S. District Court Judge Randolph D. Moss. He also asked Klein if he understood the conditions of his release, which Klein said he did.
On Dec. 29, prosecutors allege the brothers purchased airline tickets using cash. The Kleins flew from Portland to Pennsylvania on Jan. 4, court documents state. The next day, they traveled to Washington, D.C.
Court documents spell out in detail how the brothers allegedly assisted other members of the crowd on Jan. 6 in climbing a wall to gain access to the upper west terrace of the Capitol. The Kleins then allegedly entered the building and celebrated with another member of the Proud Boys.
In a separate hearing Wednesday, Harris was released on a $250,000 bond paid for by his father, Fred Harris, who put up his house as collateral.
Federal prosecutors have charged Harris with five counts related to the insurrection, including assaulting, resisting or impeding officers; obstruction of an official proceeding; and entering and remaining in a restricted building.
U.S. District Court Judge Carl J. Nichols called his decision to release Harris “a close call.”
He said Harris’ “conduct was clearly aggressive and quite troubling,” but noted he didn’t physically harm another person Jan. 6.
In court documents, federal prosecutors provide several images taken from videos and social media they say depict Harris at the insurrection. One video shows a man who appears to be Harris talking on a landline inside the U.S. Capitol. He makes threatening remarks into the phone about both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and then-Vice President Mike Pence.
A man who appears to be Harris is also captured in another video published by the New Yorker. In that video, he can be heard shouting at several U.S. Capitol police officers inside the building.
“If you do not stand down, you’re outnumbered,” the man in the video said. “There’s a fucking million of us out there, and we are listening to Trump, your boss.”
Harris’ attorney, Eric Cohen, noted during the hearing that his client did not assault anyone.
“There was conversation, at most a confrontation,” Cohen said during Wednesday’s hearing. “He was just saying essentially a true fact: that there were hundreds of protesters and they were there, if not at the behest of Mr. Trump, certainly for his benefit.”
A photographer with Getty Images also took a widely-circulated picture of a man who appears to be Harris standing on a pedestal with his arm around a statue of former President Gerald Ford; the statue is wearing a MAGA hat and holding a Trump flag.
Harris has also been charged with harassment, a misdemeanor, in connection with an anti-lockdown protest outside the Oregon Capitol on Dec. 21, where video shows him shoving a journalist with the Salem Statesman-Journal.
“We submit that the reason he pushed the journalist is that he had a camera ... and could take pictures of those trying to break into the [Oregon] Capitol,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Veatch, who argued for Harris’ continued detention.
Nichols took that incident into consideration saying he was “troubled” by the short time between shoving the journalist in Oregon and participating in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. He said that was part of his reason for stringent conditions, including GPS monitoring and home detention.
Nichols said if Harris didn’t follow the release conditions, he was “going to look very unkindly” on him and likely revoke his pretrial release.
Before granting Harris’ release, Nichols ask Fred Harris if he was willing to take in his son.
“He’d have a safe place here,” the elder Harris said. “I trust him. I have no objections to him staying with me.”
“Are you going to be just a landlord or be a father figure?” Nichols asked.
“I will be a father,” the elder Harris replied.
Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting