FBI arrests Ryan Kelley, GOP candidate for Michigan governor, for his role in Capitol riot

·Senior Writer
·3 min read

Ryan Kelley, a Republican candidate for governor in Michigan, was arrested Thursday morning and charged with participating in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

After the execution of a search warrant on his home in Allendale, Mich., Kelley was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor, according to U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. The arrest comes hours before the committee investigating the events of Jan. 6 is set to hold its first public hearing.

While the real estate broker had downplayed his involvement in the violence at the Capitol, analysis of multiple videos show Kelley on the steps outside the building rallying the crowd. Last summer, the Michigan Democratic Party promoted a video of Kelley at the time, saying, “Come on, let’s go! This is it! This is — this is war, baby!”

A man, identified as Ryan Kelley in a sworn statement by an FBI agent, gestures as supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump make their way past barriers at the U.S. Capitol during a protest against the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, in Washington on January 6, 2021. (Jim Urquhart/Reuters)
A man, identified as Ryan Kelley in a sworn statement by an FBI agent, gestures as supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump make their way past barriers at the U.S. Capitol during a protest against the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, in Washington on January 6, 2021. (Jim Urquhart/Reuters)

“As far as going through any barricades, or doing anything like that, I never took part in any forceful anything,” Kelley told MLive in March 2021, after launching his campaign. “Once things started getting crazy, I left.”

According to the statement of facts supporting the criminal complaint against Kelley, the FBI first began receiving tips about Kelley’s involvement in the weeks after the violence of Jan. 6. The document states that an FBI agent interviewed Kelley in an attempt to confirm his identity.

Kelley has been charged with knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, knowingly engaging in an act of physical violence against person or property in a restricted building or grounds and willfully injuring or committing any depredation against a property of the United States.

Ryan Kelley at the podium, with a column in the background.
Ryan Kelley, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, speaks a rally on Feb. 8 outside the Michigan Capitol in Lansing to conservative activists demanding a new investigation into former President Donald Trump's loss in the 2020 presidential race. (Jake May/The Flint Journal via AP)

Kelley is among the many Michigan GOP members challenging Democratic incumbent Gretchen Whitmer in this fall’s midterm election. Five potential candidates were disqualified for submitting too many fraudulent signatures, but Kelly is likely to be one of five remaining Republicans on the ballot for the August primary. His previous experience of office was on his local township’s planning commission.

Kelley also helped organize armed protests against Whitmer’s COVID measures and fought to keep a Confederate statue in the Union state.

"To me that’s one step closer to being able to tear down other things that represent our history, like the Constitution. And that’s a scary thing, right?" Kelley told WWMT news in June 2020, during the protests following the death of George Floyd. "We need to celebrate our history, to remember our history, and why the freedom of slavery happened. It’s because it’s wrong in every capacity. So if we continue to tear down things like this and erase our history, when do we erase the Constitution?"

The rioters got within 2 doors of Vice President Mike Pence's office. See how in this 3D explainer from Yahoo Immersive.

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