Speaking from the Washington area, the founder of Defend East County on Wednesday defended the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol — likening them to the revolutionaries of 1776.
“It’s our constitutional duty to overthrow a tyrannical government,” said Justin Haskins, the former leader of the group Facebook shut down two months ago. “When tyranny becomes law, rebellion becomes duty. You know: Give me liberty or give me death.”
In a 15-minute video posted to Instagram hours after the violence, Haskins wore a MAGA headband and said he was “conflicted” over what he saw.
But he denied taking part in the break-in or vandalism despite saying: “This is our chance. If we stop now, it’s over. We got a shot here.”
“We were holding a line back from the building (where barricades were),” he said in the video obtained by Times of San Diego. “I’m provoked. The police started shooting tear gas at us. Rather than disperse, rather than run away from the tear gas, everybody ran forward. That’s what started all this today. That’s never going to be admitted. But I was right there.”
The Yuma-based supporter of President Trump contrasted the Capitol violence with the unrest that hit La Mesa in May, with “looting, rioting, burn-shit-to-the-ground for nothing.”
“Let’s be real: What transpired today is a hell of a lot different than a BLM/Antifa riot even though the mayor of D.C. said [this] is what white supremacy looks like,” Haskins said, claiming that “well over a million people” were in D.C. with him to protest the Electoral College vote certification.
He said he didn’t like the fact that a “couple windows got broken, but windows were broken in an attempt to breach a government building to overthrow a tyrannical government vs. busting out the windows of mom-and-pop shops and even big-box stores.”
He said patriots in 1776 didn’t hold signs and wave flags and chant “Stop the steal.”
“We wouldn’t be America today if they did that,” he said. “It’s a rebellion. It took the patriots to do things.”
He labeled as “tragic” the shooting death of a San Diego woman in the Capitol.
“You never saw them use live ammunition on BLM, Antifa,” Haskins said, answering questions posed to him online. “You can just imagine the headline if they had killed not one but two BLM females.”
Newly sworn-in Rep. Sara Jacobs of San Diego, who said she feared for her life while the Capitol was occupied, reacted to Haskins’ remarks.
“I think it’s deeply troubling that he and so many others have been led to believe that this election was fraudulent when, in fact, Trump’s own department of Homeland Security has said it’s the most secure election the United States has ever had,” she said in a phone interview.
Earlier, Haskins praised Rep. Darrell Issa, who went on to join 120 other GOP House members in a failed effort to challenge Arizona electors.
“He hasn’t turned his back on us once.” Haskins said. “Great communications, even after winning the election.” (An Issa spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.)
Haskins recounted how police were being called traitors and described one interaction with officers.
“I stopped at one of the intersections and said: ‘Guys, I see … you’re doing your job. And people are trespassing, vandalizing. You gotta do your job. But the other side of the Constitution says we gotta overthrow a tyrannical government.’”
He said an officer replied: “I don’t care about that. I just care about my job.”
Haskins remarked: “That’s really the problem. That response right there. At that moment, I lost all respect for that officer. As an officer, you swear to uphold the law and Constitution. Not just (obey) orders.”
He rejected stories that Antifa or BLM elements caused the violence to make Trump look bad. And it was a mix of races involved, he said.
“We weren’t trying to break windows — by we, I mean the Patriots and Trump supporters. I … didn’t touch a window, but those who were trying to break the windows were trying to breach the building to overthrow a tyrannical government,” he said. “They were not trying to vandalize the building.”
He said he was “stoked” thinking that the crowd was going to enter the building “without damaging anything.”
“That didn’t happen,” he said, apologizing for not having an adequate internet connection to livestream all events (though he did post crowd shots in the capital).
He said it’s the job of Congress, the FBI and the Justice Department to investigate and protect election integrity.
“We’re literally watching the presidency in this country being stolen,” Haskins said. “We watched it literally last night in Georgia. At what point do you stop waving your dumb-ass flags … and start taking your country back? Just like the patriots of 1776 did.”