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Outspoken Central Valley supporters of Donald Trump were in — or near — the riot that resulted in the deadly breach of the U.S. Capitol building this week.

Clovis real estate agent Ben Martin told GV Wire℠ that he was actually inside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday during the riots — although he didn’t intend to enter the building.

Jason Phillips of Fresno captured a video of people confronting Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) in the Washington National airport terminal on Friday.

On Wednesday, Phillips posted a photo on Facebook of himself at the Capitol building. The caption accompanying the photo said, “It’s time to take our country back!”

Photo of Jason Phillips

Jason Phillips at the Capitol riots on Wednesday, Jan. 6. 2021. (Facebook/Jason Phillips)

Watch: Trump Supporters Confront Sen. Graham

Video from Facebook/Jason Phillips

Group Confronts Graham

There are several video versions of a group confronting Graham, calling him a traitor. On Wednesday, the senior South Carolina senator — a Trump ally — said that Trump lost the election and he voted to affirm Joe Biden’s election as president.

Phillips had a running conversation with Graham, asking him about his loyalty. Police escorted Graham away.

Martin appears in the background of the video, chanting at Graham.

Watch: Another View of Protesters Confronting Sen. Graham

Video from Facebook/Oreo Express

Martin Explains Being in the Capitol During Riot

Martin hosts a Facebook podcast dubbed “The Real POV.” The Realtor was among about 50 people in northeast Fresno who on Saturday protested the requirement to wear a mask amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of the protest, the Trader Joe’s on Friant Road closed early that day.

Martin’s description of Wednesday’s events in Washington, D.C. illustrates the Great American Divide and how the voicing of unsubstantiated facts and disinformation has shaped this divide.

Martin said that he was in Washington to support the president, that he tried to act as a peacemaker in the Capitol melee, and that Antifa was to blame for the building’s breach and vandalism. Some Republican lawmakers and conservative pundits have echoed that claim.

However, there is no evidence that anti-fascist activists were involved in the pro-Trump Capitol riots, FBI Assistant Director Steven D’Antuono said on a call with reporters Friday.

D’Antuono also said that the FBI would cast a wide net to arrest those who engaged in criminal activity. Martin has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

“We are far from done. The rioting and destruction we saw will not be tolerated by the FBI … We will continue to investigate all allegations of criminal activity,” said D’Antuono. “Just because you’ve left the D.C. region, you can still expect a knock on the door if we find out that you were part of the criminal activity at the Capitol.”

In addition to Trump supporters, others present included Q-Anon conspiracy theorists, the far-right Proud Boys, the anti-government Oath Keepers, whose members are former law enforcement officials and military veterans, and various white supremacist groups.

Still, Martin insisted that much of the protest was peaceful, ruined only by some “bad apples.”

Rioters break into the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday (Ben Martin)

Acting as a Peacemaker

Martin says there were no barriers along the perimeter of the Capitol, on what he believed to be the north side. He went up toward the side of the building when he saw the unrest happening.

“There were people trying to break into the building and I was trying to calm everyone down and to get it to be a little bit peaceful and say, ‘Hey, guys, you know, we can be here and we don’t need to act out,’ ” Martin said. “There were some inciters who were throwing like — Trumpers don’t throw rocks at buildings. Trumpers don’t try to break windows or break doors.”

Martin says “other groups” were the ones breaking in. He attempted to put himself physically between the mob and the police.

“I was trying to negotiate with both sides to de-escalate the issue,” Martin said. “I was literally in the middle of the front door when the herd behind me — there were thousands of them. All this weight of people starts moving you in a direction, I couldn’t control the direction of anything at that point,” Martin said.

Once inside, Martin said that he continued to urge people to leave. He believed he was about 10 to 15 feet inside the building before peacefully walking out, avoiding the pepper spray.

“This is way too out of control. I’m one person and I can’t help anymore,” Martin said.

He remained on the outside watching and recording the events. Later, Martin posted a video in which he criticized D.C. police for enforcing a 6 p.m. curfew and not letting him and others exit the hotel.

“This is what communism gets you!” Martin said. “This is not OK. Do we live in communist China?”

‘A Healthy Exercise’

Martin said what happened at the Capitol may have been a good thing.

“To some degree, I think it was a healthy exercise because I think the government needs to know that the people who stood up, (are fed up about) the lack of representation,” Martin said.

When informed that this was the first breach of the Capitol since the War of 1812, Martin said “Wow! They made history, didn’t they?”

Doesn’t Agree with Anti-Semitic Protesters

Several videos and photographs captured rioters with anti-Semitic messages on t-shirts. Martin said that didn’t see any of that, but disagrees with such sentiment.

My personal belief is that there’s only one race, the human race. So anyone who says anything racial I don’t side with or anything anti-Semitic,” Martin said.

Not Worried About Business

Martin’s business is The Benjamin Martin Real Estate Team.

He said that he’s not concerned about alienating customers or driving away potential customers.

“I have always advertised to conservatives. So left-leaning people have never worked with me. I’m not worried about it. I didn’t break any laws. I didn’t do anything wrong. I was there practicing my First Amendment right,” Martin said.

He says his company has been getting “a lot of hate mail” and phone calls.

“I’m OK with that because I don’t want to work with people who don’t think like I do. I really like the way that I set my business up. I get to work with like-minded people,” Martin said.

16 Responses

  1. Karl

    Local federal authorities should arrest this insurrectionist. For God’s sake a police officer was killed and another was being crushed in between heavey doors being struck by these traitors while he was stuck. Can you imagine while all this was happening this guy was telling people to be calm? Liar. Needs jail and Real Estate lic. to be revoked.

    Reply
    • MGomez

      Gee, Karl. Why aren’t you distressed that the FBI was propagating the lie that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to steal the election from Hillary “Destroy Emails” Clinton?

      Karl? Karl? Why so quiet?

      Reply
      • Paul

        Hey MGomez, get a life, better yet yourself an education, not alternative facts(lies) but emperical and undisputed truths.

    • Christine Warren

      His real estate license is already on restricted basis for a failure to report a conviction for misdemeanor battery. Just trying keeping the peace at the insurrection? Ha! Doubtful!

      Reply
    • Diane Lucas

      On the video he recorded later that night from his hotel, you can hear screaming obscenities at the officers and encouraging the crowd to “rush the police officers”. At one point his friend tells him the police said if he goes outside again he will be arrested – Martin says “If he tries to arrest you, I will f**k him up”. So much for his pro police/anti violence claims.

      Reply
      • M.

        Lying has become a way of life. Thank you Donald Trump. M.

  2. Bryant

    He works for Keller Williams as a real estate broker, doesn’t look like he was being entirely level with you.

    Reply
  3. Some Chick Who's Mad

    GV – Please stop giving publicity to these criminals. You only empower them to do more damage and hurt more people. They think they’re heroes, but they’re terrorists. Please stop enabling them.

    Reply
  4. Patrick Pine

    Not only did one police officer die (amid preliminary reports that protestors were striking him with a fire extinguisher multiple times) but approximately 50 other officers were injured – including the one being crushed by protestors pushing him at the doorway. Multiple press employees were assaulted and their equipment destroyed. Blood and feces were left in multiple locations inside the Capitol. As to the allegations that “antifa” really did the violence – there are multiple emails and posts from the leader of the Proud Boys before Wednesday suggesting they dress in all black to look more like “antifa” rather in their more customary attire – he predicted that would cause people to blame “antifa”.

    Many of those on video and those who have been arrested were previously known to be affiliated with groups like Proud Boys, Oathkeepers, pro Trump groups, Boogaloo Bois, and were seen at Charlottesville or other previous scenes.

    Those of us who have family members who served like my father, father in law, uncle, aunt, cousin in WW II, Korea, Viet Nam would feel that all those who went to the Capitol on Wednesday to “protest” are the opposite of patriots.

    Reply
  5. Martin

    This man is a menace to society. In his own video he is ckearly telling roiters to “F**k up” police officers if they try to arrest anyone.

    Reply
  6. Ron Sherrin

    Thank you Paul & Karl! Comrade MGomez is a traitor to the community, and our country. Maybe MGomez forgot about Helsinki. MGomez would like to forget about a lot of things but one thing MGomez will never be allowed to forget. Donald Trump was a traitor to his country, and he will be the first President to be Impeached, and convicted for Incitement of an insurrection. It will be bipartisan. That has nothing to do with Russia. MGomez it’s to face the music, and Devin Nunes & Kevin McCarthy must resign immediately.

    Reply
    • Ron Sherrin

      Never buy a home from local insurrectionist, and seditionist Benjamin Martin. Traitor to his country, traitor to the truth.

      Reply
  7. Barbara Rizzo

    This gang of thugs should be worried. There have been articles about how sophisticated the technology is at the Capitol. Others have lied about not being inside the Capitol but the FBI determined by the GPS on their phones that they were. The FBI is meticulously reviewing the videos from their own cameras and the information that has been sent to them. I wouldn’t be surprised if information about these idiots has already been sent to the FBI. So, they may be full of bravado now but if I were them, I would be worried about any future visits from the feds.

    Reply
  8. Steve

    Flip flop, flip flop, flip flop.

    First, dude went to DC to protest the “stolen election” and support Trump. Then riot breaks out. Originally he’s hyped and proud to be a part of it and considers himself a true patriot American. When things get dicey, he says he’s trying to keep the peace and talk sense to those crazy rioters. Can’t have it both ways bro.

    I would reference Lindsey Graham, the original king of flip-flippers, but his empty suit and spineless-ness is already widely known. Fair weather friend & jellyfish are too soft terms for the senator.

    Reply

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