Chicago activist Larry Ligas plans to fight Jan. 6 Capitol riot charges | I-Team EXCLUSIVE

"Hopefully the truth will come out," Ligas told the ABC7 I-Team in an exclusive interview.

ByChuck Goudie and Barb Markoff, Christine Tressel and Tom Jones WLS logo
Thursday, February 29, 2024
Activist Larry Ligas plans to fight Jan. 6 riot charges | EXCLUSIVE
Chicago activist Larry Ligas, 62, told the ABC7 I-Team he plans to fight criminal charges for his role in the January 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Larry Ligas has been a visible North Side Chicago community activist for decades, fighting for election integrity, he says.

But now, Ligas is involved in the fight of his life, facing Jan. 6 Capitol riot charges that he is vowing to take to trial.

Ligas told a Washington, D.C. judge on Tuesday that he was not going to take a plea deal from the Justice Department, and so his trial date was scheduled for this December.

After his court hearing, Ligas sat down with the I-Team to talk about the case against him in his first interview about what happened that day.

"Hopefully the truth will come out," Ligas told the I-Team.

Ligas said he came to Washington on Jan. 5, 2021, to monitor the integrity of the election certification that was on the Congressional agenda for the next day.

The 64-year-old from Chicago's North Side believes he was picked out of the crowd by federal agents because he is an outspoken public figure and well-known activist.

SEE ALSO | Supreme Court to hear Trump's appeal for presidential immunity, further delaying Jan. 6 trial

"I was the number one face because I was talking to the media," Ligas said.

On the day of the riot, Ligas spoke with an NPR reporter who quoted him saying, "We're not moving on... We are not Republicans. We are the MAGA party. We are patriots," according to court records reviewed by the I-Team.

Ligas maintains that he was at the Capitol on Jan. 6 for election research and to provide aid, if asked, to the U.S. Congress.

"Maybe I would have [the] opportunity to monitor the election because if the six or seven swing states just had a forensic audit of the mail-in ballots to look for fake signatures," Ligas said. "People were talking about the election was stolen. I don't know. But all I know is it was egregiously rigged."

SEE ALSO | Chicago cop who stormed US Capitol with his sister asking for probation

As a self-styled, conservative activist who works for himself, Ligas said on Jan. 6 he wound up inside the Capitol Rotunda, believing he might be tapped to help Congress certify the election.

Surveillance photos obtained by the FBI show Ligas entering the Capitol Rotunda at 2:40 p.m. that day and leaving eight minutes later.

"The minute I got in there, I was like, 'There's something funny with this,'" Ligas explained. "[There were] no metal detectors. Why would we be allowed to go in somewhere with no metal detectors?"

When asked about the violence, vandalism and destruction that occurred that day, Ligas was adamant he had no idea rioters had climbed through windows, and busted through doors to get into the Capitol.

"You're asking me a question in real time, I had no clue," Ligas said. "At times. I was on the front line, and I saw police acting up, like they're holding back, you know, a guard gate. And nobody pushing on the guard gate. A lot of it was orchestrated."

Based on the photos and surveillance footage prosecutors displayed in the criminal complaint against Ligas, he was initially charged with four misdemeanor counts when he was arrested in early December 2021.

But, as the I-Team previously reported, prosecutors added a felony obstruction charge against Ligas last month.

The obstruction charge has been challenged by some as improper. Some Jan. 6 cases across the country are being paused until the Supreme Court rules whether the use of obstruction laws is constitutional.

SEE ALSO | Retired CFD firefighter sentenced for role in Jan. 6 Capitol riot

Ligas said the felony obstruction accusation was a "revenge charge" after he refused to accept a plea deal. He said his attorneys wanted him to plead guilty and put the case behind him, as have the majority of the nearly 1,300 people charged in connection with the Capitol attack have done.

During a remote hearing on Tuesday, attorneys representing Ligas said there would be no deal with the government. Instead, Ligas pledges to go to trial, a place where nearly all Jan. 6 defendants have lost.

While acknowledging the odds are against him, Ligas said he still plans to fight.

"The Justice Department is very tough. You have to respect them," Ligas said. "I believe if anybody could beat the Justice Department, with the facts that I have behind me, it will be Lawrence Ligas."

Jury selection for Ligas' trial is scheduled to start on Dec. 2, 2024.