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Feds say Jan. 6 rioter seen giving Nazi salute praised Hitler, sent racist messages

Matthew Beddingfield, of North Carolina, was first identified a year ago by online sleuths investigating the Jan. 6 attack.
A man identified as Matthew Beddingfield by court documents, front, at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
A man court documents identified as Matthew Beddingfield, front, at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.Robert Nickelsberg / Getty Images

WASHINGTON — A Jan. 6 rioter with a violent felony record who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 while he was out on bail on a first-degree attempted murder charge should be held until trial, the Department of Justice argued Tuesday in a court filing that alleged he has white supremacist views and an affinity for Adolf Hitler.

Matthew Beddingfield, of North Carolina, was identified by online sleuths and first named in a March 2021 HuffPost article that laid out how he was identified by members of the Sedition Hunters community who found leads using facial recognition technology. Video footage allegedly shows Beddingfield at the front of the police line using his flagpole with the American flag as a weapon, and also throwing a pole at officers before he joined the mob entering the Capitol building.

He was arrested last month in North Carolina during a meeting with his probation officer. In a new filing Tuesday, the Justice Department submitted new evidence alleging that Beddingfield praised Hitler and engaged in racist harassment on social media.

When he stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 after traveling to D.C. with his father, Beddingfield was out on bail after he was accused of shooting a 17-year-old Hispanic male in the parking lot of a Walmart store. In August 2021, seven months after the Capitol attack, Beddingfield pleaded guilty in that case to felonious assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill or inflicting serious injury, and was sentenced to 24 months probation.

Beddingfield, as the original FBI affidavit noted, "appeared to make a gesture that is commonly associated with the Nazis" when outside the Capitol. But the alleged extent of his white supremacist views weren't made public until now.

In a detention memo filed Tuesday morning, federal authorities said they found "highly offensive and deeply troubling hate symbols and hate speech" on Beddingfield's phone.

"Beddingfield appears to harbor deep resentment towards the Black, Hispanic, Native American, and LGBTQ+ communities while glorifying white supremacist figures, beliefs, language, and ideologies," the memo states. In some messages, the authorities write, "Beddingfield unabashedly expresses his wish that members of those groups meet a violent end and in others he expresses a desire to inflict said violence or death on the same."

Images on his cellphone, they write, "include, but are not limited to images of SS Bolts, swastikas (sometimes with hate language superimposed over the swastika’s four arms), numerous images and memes featuring Hitler, and other anti-Semitic, anti-Black, and anti-LGBTQ+ memes and caricatures."

On an Instagram account, Beddingfield harassed other users with racial slurs and wrote "Heil Hitler," according to the authorities. In the days leading up to his Feb. 7 arrest, Beddingfield was arrested on charges of reckless driving and allegedly harassed other Instagram users.

“I’d like to reclaim America and it is fine if a few of my peoples enemies are ‘hurt’ in the process,” Beddingfield wrote on Jan. 19 of this year, according to federal authorities.

He added, "the only tragedy that happened was that Hitler didn’t finish the job," in a Feb. 5 message, according to them.

When he showed up to the meeting with his probation officer where he was arrested, Beddingfield also allegedly had several books about Hitler and the Nazis in his car. At his family's home, FBI agents found "thousands of rounds of .22 caliber ammunition in Beddingfield's closet, even though he was a convicted felon at the time the ammunition was recovered." There were also four long guns, four handguns and additional ammunition found in the family home, the federal authorities said.

The memo also includes an image of the shoes that Beddingfield wore to the Capitol on Jan. 6.

What appear to be Nike Zoom Freak 1 shoes that match the shoes that Beddingfield wore in
Washington, D.C., in November 2020 and January 2021.
Federal authorities say they recovered what appeared to be the Nike Zoom Freak 1 shoes that Beddingfield wore when he stormed the Capitol.United States District Court for the District of Columbia

The Justice Department, citing what appeared to be the Nazi salute that he gave during the Jan. 6 riot, argued that Beddingfield not only harbored racist white supremacist views, but also was "willing to act on it and express it while carrying out violent acts."

"It is significant that Beddingfield took the time to make what is likely a Nazi gesture towards the Capitol after violently assaulting and confronting law enforcement," they wrote. "There is a connection in Beddingfield’s white supremacist views and the physical manifestations thereof and his violent acts."

The FBI has arrested more than 740 people in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, and hundreds of more arrests are in the works. The first Jan. 6 trial is underway.

Beddingfield's detention hearing is scheduled for March 10.