A Marine veteran accused of threatening law enforcement with a large wooden stick during the Jan. 6 Capitol breach pleaded guilty to felony civil disorder on Thursday.
James Russell Davis served in the Marine Corps between October 1994 and June 1996, according to court documents. The 47-year-old Virginia native is the latest defendant with military ties to plead guilty to charges connected to the Capitol assault. Two active duty Marines also pleaded guilty to riot-related offenses on Monday.
The steady rise in current and former service members pleading guilty to Jan. 6 violence lends weight to a growing body of research showing that small but dangerous elements within military circles are prone to extremism. Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, have decried the Biden administration’s attempts to root out extremism in the military as insulting and pointless.
Prosecutors claim Davis engaged in physical altercations with police on U.S. Capitol Grounds. A montage of social media posts and police body cam footage compiled in Davis’s affidavit depict him leading a throng of rioters as it confronted law enforcement on the Capitol’s lower west terrace. Sporting tactical gloves, sunglasses, and a Marine Corps cap, Davis brandished a large wooden staff as he shoved and cussed at outnumbered officers.
“I fought for this country, I fought for this country, what the fuck are you doing,” Davis is recorded screaming.
Davis is a self-proclaimed member of the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group that propagates anti-government and white supremacist ideologies. Proud Boy members played pivotal roles in stoking and executing the Capitol assault. A federal jury convicted four Proud Boys, including its leader, Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, of seditious conspiracy and other felonies early May.
Prosecutors have charged at least 1,043 individuals in connection to the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol as of Jun. 6. More than half have pleaded guilty. Researchers at Harvard University estimate that almost 20% of Jan. 6 rioters were veterans; a smaller sliver were active members of the military.
Davis faced four charges at the time of his arrest in July 2021. He is set to be sentenced on Sept. 12, 2023.
Jaime Moore-Carrillo is an editorial fellow for Military Times and Defense News. A Boston native, Jaime graduated with degrees in international affairs, history, and Arabic from Georgetown University, where he served as a senior editor for the school's student-run paper, The Hoya.