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By Logan Blakeslee, Sean Harrigan, and Arthur O’Sullivan

The United States of America experienced an unprecedented event on January 6, 2021: A sitting president refused to concede his electoral loss, believing that the vote had been stolen through massive voting fraud. That day, nearly 12,000 ardent supporters of Donald Trump gathered at the U.S. Capitol Building for a “Stop the Steal” protest, in a last-ditch effort to pressure republican senators and vice president Mike Pence to refuse to certify the electoral college’s votes (which itself would have created a constitutional crisis). The intensity of the protest reached its breaking point when the mob moved outside the capitol. Before long, some of them were swarming inside illegally. 

Four protestors and three police officers died immediately following the event (mostly due to exacerbated health conditions and suicides); roughly one hundred and fifty officers (and an unknown amount of protesters) sustained injuries during the event; hundreds were arrested for their involvement in the protest. The Capitol Police (eventually) wrested control of the situation and Congress was able to certify the 2020 presidential election in favor of Joe Biden. Just as certain protests-turned-riots of the prior year revealed an ardent left-wing radicalism, so too did this riot unveil a right-wing radicalism present within segments of American society. Neither the lack of evidence nor the sheer improbability of massive voter fraud could dissuade hundreds of thousands of right-wing citizens from their belief, both then and now, that Donald Trump was the rightful victor of the 2020 election.

Who is Jon Lizak?

Binghamton University was not untouched by this event: Jon Lizak, a former president of B.U. College Republicans, and Long Island resident, was part of the mob that rushed into the Capitol Building on January 6th. He was personally joined by four other men who were known members of a right-wing organization called America First. Lizak and the other suspects were recorded on numerous security cameras throughout the Capitol as well as multiple social media outlets. In these recordings, one can see him trespassing into congressional offices, including that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. One of his companions, identified as Joseph Brody, struck a U.S. Capitol Police officer with a metal barricade while Lizak watched, standing mere feet away as it happened. In September of this year, Lizak was arrested in his hometown on a set of charges related to the riot. Although he was released on bond, his case will be handled by a Washington, D.C. federal court. 

This incident was hardly the first to feature Lizak as a key player: He was also present for the joint tabling between B.U. College Republicans and Turning Point USA at the Binghamton University spine in November, 2019. The right-wing content at their table drew the attention of almost 200 left-wing protestors, who escalated their protest into a vandalistic confrontation for which university police had to intervene. The primary purpose of this tabling event was to advertise a speaking event featuring the famous economist Dr. Arthur Laffer at Binghamton University. This event was itself cut short when many of the same protestors stormed into the lecture hall to heckle Dr. Laffer and disrupt his ability to lecture. The protestors’ efforts succeeded, and Dr. Laffer was forced to evacuate by campus police.   

As a result, Jon Lizak is listed as one of the plaintiffs in an ongoing lawsuit between the Young America’s Foundation, B.U. College Republicans, and Binghamton University itself. Along with the other plaintiffs, Lizak contends that the university failed to adequately protect their free speech rights during the aforementioned events. It is unknown how recent events will impact this specific lawsuit. 

These cases demonstrate that Lizak was no stranger to controversy prior to the Capitol riot. But whereas his prior controversies only escalated to the plaintiff’s side of a civil court, he now finds himself a defendant in a federal criminal court.

The Legal Charges

An unknown Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) assigned to the Washington Field Office is investigating a group including the following individuals: Joseph Brody, Paul Lovely, Gabriel Chase, Thomas Carey, and Jon Lizak himself. The group faces at least some of the following charges: 

  • Civil Disorder 
  • Assaulting, Resisting, or Impeding Certain Officers 
  • Obstructing, influencing, or impeding any official proceeding 
  • Entering and Remaining in a Restricted Building or Grounds 
  • Disorderly and Disruptive Conduct in a Restricted Building or Grounds  
  • Disorderly Conduct in a Capitol Building
  • Parading, Demonstrating, or Picketing in a Capitol Building

These charges have been brought by the direct witness of the unknown Special Agent. On September 12, 2022, G. Michael Harvey, U.S. Magistrate Washington District Court Judge was assigned this case. On September 15, 2022 Jon Lizak was arrested on the related charges, and has been charged with the following misdemeanors:

  • Entering and Remaining in a Restricted Building or Grounds
  • Disorderly and Disruptive Conduct in a Restricted Building or Grounds
  • Disorderly Conduct in a Capitol Building
  • Parading, Demonstrating, or Picketing in a Capitol Building

 The accused group is alleged to have traveled together to participate in the riot. The individuals met at certain rallies before then, moved from various places throughout the East Coast of the United States shortly prior to the event, and congregated at Washington, D.C. on January 6. From there, CCTV caught the group moving into the Capitol together and through the building where they would remain for some time, disrupting Congressional election certification. The whole group entered House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Office, and Brody himself entered the Senate Chamber while Senate proceedings were ongoing. 

After leaving the Capitol, the group proceeded to the North end of the building and witnessed the attempted penetration of the North Door. Brody went as far as assisting other rioters in using a barricade to assault a Capitol Police officer, knocking the man back with force, while the rest of the group witnessed. Afterward, Brody and Chase participated in destroying multiple electronics, themselves smashing a corded phone, while also appearing to steal a pair of headphones. Law enforcement used cellular site and data records to triangulate the groups geographic area, and after having a search warrant signed, to match phone numbers with Lizak. Google location corroborated the fact that Lizak was the figure captured in the Capitol’s CCTV footage. FBI employees also conducted open-source research to match Lizak’s social media profile with the rest of their evidence. After matching the characteristics of Lizak’s DMV picture, and social media with the CCTV footage, alongside Lizak’s phone being in the Capitol, the FBI concluded that Lizak was one of the suspects in question. The rest of the group was identified in a similar way. 

Near the end of the protest-turned-riot, Lizak and his companions were filmed standing around a pile of destroyed media equipment. From available DOJ documents, it is unknown when or how Jon Lizak returned to New York, but they nevertheless apprehended Lizak over a year later on September 15, 2022 after a thorough FBI-led investigation. 

Associated Groups

Lizak’s actions at the capitol makes sense in the context of broader political movements in the United States. Like many politically active youth, Lizak was swept up in the more radical elements of his spectrum, embracing the polarized landscape as a militant for the right wing.  

Among his more moderate groups include the New York Federation of College Republicans, where beginning in June, 2021, Lizak was the Western Regional Chairman. But he also associated with more radical movements, such as “America First” (AF), a nebulous coterie of “groypers” predominantly led by Nick Fuentes. The general purpose of this movement is to ingratiate theories of hyper-nationalism, theocracy, and “race realist” white supremacy into mainstream conservatism. Like many extremist movements, its strength lies in speaking contradictions: Nick Fuentes is both a traditional conservative christian, while also pretending to be a nazi catboy. His “groypers” claim to be American patriots while reflexively defending Russia, China, and Syria at any opportunity. Japanese Anime is considered both degenerate filth as well as one of their calling-cards on social media. It becomes difficult to determine what a given person such as Lizak or Fuentes truly believes when “irony” becomes a cover for every position he holds. Still, these contradictions make the movement attractive to young conservatives, who seek a sense of camaraderie and self-justification in their politics, and nothing hijacks these instincts more than a cult such as this one.

According to the DOJ affidavit, “Lovely, Brody, Chase, and Lizak initially met at an AF event and attended subsequent events together.” Lizak’s association with this movement was apparently short-lived, however, as according to a set of Telegram posts, Fuentes dismissed Lizak and his companions as “vaccinated/Jewish.” He then claimed that Lizak and co. formed the splinter group “Legacy America” due to this difference. 

Legacy America is a small and obscure group on whom it is difficult to gather information. Their only online presence consists of a private twitter account and a deleted TikTok. According to their Twitter bio, “Legacy America seeks to educate and inspire young conservatives and nationalists about the tenets and histories of these beliefs.” Their profile banner is likewise a black-and-white image of the capitol building (ironically) with LEGACY AMERICA superimposed on it.  

From this, one might presume that Legacy America embraces the nebulous ideals of “paleoconservatism” and “national conservatism.” While these, on their own, are not nearly as repulsive as Fuentes’ bigotry, they still embrace a pernicious and self-justifying radicalism, which, at its worst, gives license to political violence such as the capitol riot. 

Lessons Learned

The capitol riot, and Lizak’s participation therein, should be taken as warning to conservative students to moderate their passions and to embrace humility as a civic virtue. The events of January 6th and its fallout represent the hubris and distemper of Donald Trump and his acolytes, and for all its noise and bravado, these things ended up corroding the core of the conservative movement. In 2020, conservatives stood against the crime and rioting endemic to the flagrant democratic cities, and defended nigh-sacred American institutions of political peace and protection of property. The right lost that credibility the very next year, as some like Lizak broke the right’s moratorium on political violence, while others stood by and defended his actions. One should never confuse strength with brutishness, especially in the civic realm. The consequences are your own destruction, and that of your ideals.

All information pertaining to Lizak and his immediate group is taken from The United States Department of Justice’s website:

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