Vice had an article about a family that was split apart when the 18-year old son reported their father to the authorities that he had been part of the mob that invaded the Capitol building on January 6th, 2021. He will be the first person to stand trial next month for his role in the events.
On January 5 last year, Guy Reffitt, a member of the Texas Three Percenters militia, packed his AR-15 rifle and a Smith & Wesson pistol into his wife’s car and set off on the 1,300-mile journey from Wylie, Texas, to Washington, D.C.
The next day, armed with the pistol, he attended the “Stop the Steal” rally in front of the White House, then marched with the crowd over to the U.S. Capitol Building, where he allegedly charged at police officers with such force that they had to fire projectiles and use pepper spray to hold him back.
Reffitt, wearing body armor partially covered by a blue jacket and a black motorcycle helmet, was captured on video on a staircase on the West Front of the Capitol. He can be seen holding his hand up as a police officer sprays him in the face. Moments later cameras capture Reffitt, exhausted from battle, flushing out his eyes with a bottle of water.
When he returned to Texas, according to prosecutors, he delivered an ominous threat to his son Jackson, 18, and daughter Peyton, 16, about what would happen if they told anyone what he’d done: “If you turn me in, you’re a traitor, and you know what happens to traitors… Traitors get shot.”
What he didn’t know was that his son had already turned him in.
Jackson had actually tipped off the FBI in December, after becoming concerned about his father’s increasingly radicalized rhetoric, including claims he was “about to do something big.”
Jackson discovered his father was at the Capitol when Reffitt began posting pictures from the insurrection to the family chat group. With the riot still unfolding live on television, Jackson got a call from the FBI, who asked if his father was at the Capitol. Jackson confirmed that he was.
But as a result, his life and his family is in a shambles.
While Guy Reffitt is set to stand trial, and potentially faces decades in prison, the weight of turning him in has fallen heavily on his children and his wife, Nicole. Jackson has left the family home and cut off almost all contact. His sisters Peyton and Sarah, 24, have been forced to defend both their father and brother while their family woes play out in the media, with many platforms seeking to twist the narrative to suit their agenda.
Jackson moved out of the house because of the tension. Reffitt’s wife fully supported her husband’s decision to go to the riot while his two daughters’ loyalties are split between the father and their brother. It is interesting that in this family photo, the son is the only one wearing a mask, suggesting that there was division in other areas as well.
In a letter sent from prison obtained by ProPublica, Reffitt remains unrepentant and boastful, claiming that if they had wanted to overthrow the government, they could have. But if that was not the goal, what was? Just to get attention?
Reffitt saw his actions on Jan. 6 as a critical step in protecting his wife and kids from what he viewed as a decades-long American slide toward “tyranny,” according to his text messages.
Reffitt’s son covertly recorded conversations with his father that have shown up in court filings as evidence that Reffitt came to the Capitol armed and with violent intentions.
“You’ll find out that I had every constitutional right to carry a weapon and take over the Congress, as we tried to do,” he said in one recording, according to a transcript in court files. Jackson Reffitt, 18, has since moved out of the family home and is raising money to support himself and his schooling.
As with the other rioters, he has incriminated himself, eliminating an innocence defense. His boastfulness in prison isn’t going to earn him any sympathy from a judge either and it precludes the other defenses being tried by others, such as “I was stupid”, I was led astray”, and “I am really sorry.” His lawyers and his. family seem to be promoting the idea that he was notoriously boastful and thus his words should not be taken seriously.
The ProPublica article goes on to describe how the 48-year old became drawn into the Three Percenter Militia movement
The Three Percenters, founded in 2008, derive their name from the inaccurate claim that only 3 percent of Americans fought and ultimately overthrew British forces during the American Revolution. The godfather of the movement, Michael Brian Vanderboegh, a veteran of the militia movement, advocated the idea that a similarly-dedicated group of “patriots” could come together and overthrow a modern tyrannical government (notably, the birth of this movement coincided with the election of Barack Obama).
Reffitt, 48, worked most of his adult life on oil rigs, an occupation that took him and sometimes his family around the world, including three years in Malaysia. But when the coronavirus hit in 2020, work dried up and he intensified his political activity, focusing on the Black Lives Matter movement, which he viewed as destructive.
As Reffitt struggled to find work in the spring of 2020, he spent hours watching Fox News and getting angry over the Black Lives Matter protests, his family said. His teenage children supported the movement; Reffitt viewed it as “bullshit,” according to his texts. One argument with his son ended with Reffitt throwing a coffee mug across the room. About a week later, Jackson Reffitt went to march in a BLM rally in Wylie. His father went armed, the family said, standing guard outside the suburb’s Olde City Park.
Around that time, Guy Reffitt was introduced to the Three Percenters, a decentralized anti-government movement.
Nicole Reffitt recalled a “meet and greet” in June, with about 20 members coming to the Reffitt home for a barbecue.
After some awkward small talk, the conversation turned to “what everyone could do,” she said. Who had military experience? Who had a license to carry? Who knew how to stop a bleed? Someone took notes to be sent up the chain of command.
Guy Reffitt was enthralled. Afterwards, he began doing what he called “intel,” doing background checks on new recruits. His wife was relieved he seemed to have a sense of purpose.
In August, Reffitt drove to a BLM demonstration in Mississippi, hoping to surveil a particular activist. The family said that Reffitt intended to place a GPS tracking device on the man’s car. He abandoned the plan when he wasn’t sure he had the right vehicle.
Nicole Reffitt said she was alarmed when she found multiple license plates in the bed of her husband’s pickup truck. She said her husband told her he used them to make sure he wasn’t being tracked. “I was like, ‘What the fuck? What are we doing?'” she said. “He told me to go to work and keep my business to myself.”
After then-President Donald Trump lost his bid for reelection, Guy Reffitt began to sequester himself in the front room of his suburban brick home, glued to Newsmax as it reported theories of how the vote was rigged.
Since the riot, the national movement has disbanded but it is safe to assume that the true believers are looking for a new home and allies.
It is astonishing to me that someone would risk upending his entire life and his family to take part in something that he surely must have known would a futile exercise of violence. Or did he really think that they would succeed and achieve … what exactly? The end game was never clear. At best this was some kind of cosplaying exercise that would disrupt things for a short while. And even that was not for long since the election was certified a few hours later anyway.
However, I can see how this whole thing could have been a huge adrenaline rush for someone who was adrift and looking for some purpose in life and thought that he could be part of something really big.