Sioux City man knew entering U.S. Capitol during Jan. 6 riot was wrong

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Ken Rader, a participant in the January 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riots, talks about regretting his decision to enter the U.S. Capitol during an interview Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. Rader attended former president Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C. and afterwards he entered the U.S. Capitol with other rioters. Rader was sentenced last week to 90 days in prison plus three years probation for his activities that day.



WASHINGTON, D.C. — Kenny Rader just wanted a few pieces of glass from the broken doors and windows of the U.S. Capitol, thinking someday they might be worth a little money as a memento from a historic day.

But as soon as he stepped inside the door and to the side while other rioters rushed past him, he says he knew he didn’t belong there.

“I walked in, I got the glass,” Rader said. “From that point on I got the feeling that this isn’t right. When I held that glass in my hand, I had the worst epiphany that this is wrong.”

He admitted as much Thursday before a federal judge, who sentenced him to 90 days in prison for entering the Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. Now awaiting word from the U.S. Marshals Service on when he must report to prison and free to speak with reporters about his experiences that day, the Sioux City man says he was in Washington, D.C., to protect others who, like him, believed the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump and that his supporters would be attacked.

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Ken Rader January 6 rioting

Kenny Rader, of Sioux City, talks Monday about his participation in the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riots and why he went to Washington, D.C., to attend former president Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally. Rader said he remains convinced the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump.




“I believe to this day people went there for a just reason, but somewhere along the way, things went wrong,” Rader said.

Rader’s trip to Washington was on-again, off-again and back on at the last moment. But his dissatisfaction with the election began building months before the insurrection.

Rader says he’d never been a political person, and couldn’t even vote for much of his life because of numerous felony convictions that landed him in and out of prison for 30 years. He’d long admired Trump dating back to the 1980s, when the New York businessman was often in the news.

“I always thought he’d be a good president,” Rader said.

After Trump declared his candidacy for the 2016 election, Rader quickly was on board and became eligible to vote prior to the election.

“I’m not a Republican,” Rader said. “I’m an anti-elitist. I don’t like the corrupt elite. Trump was the first person to say he was going to do something about it.”

After Trump was elected and his presidency progressed, Rader said he watched the media and others continually attack Trump. After Trump was acquitted following his 2019 impeachment, Rader said he believed “they” would try something else to remove Trump. He believes that next action was the COVID-19 virus, which he called a conspiracy with China to release a biological weapon in the United States. He watched as election officials changed voting laws to increase use of mail-in ballots because of the pandemic as the 2020 election neared.

“I could see them laying the groundwork to cheat in the election,” Rader said. “I knew there was no way in hell Joe Biden could come close to winning an election against Donald Trump.”

Rader says he became obsessed, researching election fraud and other political conspiracies he learned of through Facebook and other social media platforms. He would later realize he shared many of the same views as believers of QAnon, the conspiracy and political movement that believes, among other things, that a silent group of people, including top Democrats, are operating a global child sex trafficking ring and conspired against Trump while he was in office.







Ken Rader January 6 rioting

Kenny Rader, of Sioux City, talks Monday about his participation in the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riots and why he went to Washington, D.C., to attend former president Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally. Rader said he remains convinced the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump.




When Biden was declared the winner of the election, Rader burned an American flag, posting video of it on his Facebook page. He delved deeper into conspiracy theories about a stolen election and looked into joining a militia, but said he was denied because of his felony convictions.

Two weeks before Jan. 6, a social media contact forwarded him a flier for Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington on the morning Congress would be convening to certify the electoral college results.

Rader initially planned to go with a friend, who left Sioux City without him after never getting a solid commitment. Late into the night on Jan. 3, Rader sat in his home, pondering the potential violence he believed might await him in Washington. He faced a life-or-death decision.

I came to the decision that this is bigger than me. If I die, I die.”

Rader said he believed, as the FBI wrote in court filings, he was heading to a civil war. But he was on his way to help protect those attending the rally from antifa and Black Lives Matter groups many in his circles believed also were coming to Washington to attack them.

“Yes, I believed I was going to a civil war. Not that we’re going to start it, but I was going to defend it,” he said.

He set out alone in his car early on Jan. 4, making contact with his friend and agreeing to catch up with them, but they lost contact along the way. The following day, Rader hooked up with a group of four who were headed to Washington and told him he could stay with them in Rockville, Maryland, that night. At a hotel there, he met a group of eight or nine other men in the lobby who were much more similar to him in their beliefs and decided to go to the rally with them.

The morning of Jan. 6, they boarded the Metro train to Washington. At each stop along the way, more and more Trump supporters got on. When they got off the train near the Capitol and came out of the underground station, Rader said he was shocked to see thousands of people of all nationalities and races, all there in support of Trump. He and his new friends walked to the Washington Monument, where they watched Trump give his speech on a large video screen.







Ken Rader January 6 rioting

Kenny Rader, of Sioux City, talks Monday about his participation in the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riots and why he went to Washington, D.C., to attend former president Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally. Rader said he remains convinced the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump.




“This is where it gets nuts,” he said.

He noticed groups of people heading toward the Capitol, then started hearing what he thought were fireworks.

“I asked a guy next to me what is it. He said they were concussion grenades. They’re attacking the Capitol.”

Rader said he had to go get a closer look.

“By the time I got there, the Capitol was surrounded.”

Rader wanted to get as close as possible and left his group. He approached the Capitol steps, where rioters were battling with police, and climbed some scaffolding for a better view.

“It’s like a war zone, wounded were being lifted back. It was the most intense thing I’ve ever been in.”

Once the rioters broke through, Rader followed them up the steps to the Capitol doors, already broken out, alarms sounding, where he spotted the broken glass on the floor inside.

“I’m standing at the door, not believing with my eyes what I’m seeing,” he said. “I didn’t even think I was committing a crime.”

Deep down, though, he knew it wasn’t right.

“I felt it as soon as I went in,” he said.

Security video shows Rader, dressed in a blue Trump hoodie he said he bought from a street vendor that morning because he was cold, take a few steps inside the door, move to the side and pick up some glass from the floor. He stood near a wall, spoke with two or three other men and left three minutes later, going outside and watching the riot until darkness approached. When he heard the National Guard was on the way, he left, returning to his Maryland hotel, leaving for Sioux City the next morning. He arrived home on Jan. 8, knowing FBI agents nationwide would be on the hunt for him and others who had entered the building.

“We knew they’d be coming for us,” he said.

Rader said relatives who are on the opposite end of the political spectrum from him reported his actions to the FBI. They didn’t have to look far for evidence. Rader’s Facebook page was full of posts from his trip.

In September 2021, while Rader was on his father’s patio grilling ribs, two FBI agents arrived and questioned him on the patio. He was later indicted and arrested on Jan. 20.

Rader, 54, pleaded guilty in June to a misdemeanor charge of parading, demonstrating or picketing in a capitol building. Three other charges were dismissed in exchange for his guilty plea. He also was placed on three years’ probation with the condition he continue substance abuse treatment.

“I want you to do well, but I don’t want you in 2024 to come back and do this again,” Senior Judge Royce Lamberth told Rader at sentencing.







Ken Rader January 6 rioting

Ken Rader, of Sioux City, talks Monday about his participation in the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riots and why he went to Washington, D.C., to attend former president Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally. Rader said he remains convinced the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump.




Rader says he has no intentions on going back, and plans to attend Western Iowa Tech Community College after prison to obtain a journalism degree.

He shouldn’t have to return to Washington, anyway, he said. A self-proclaimed true QAnon believer, Rader says he believes the truth about what really happened in the 2020 election will be revealed before the 2024 presidential election, making it unnecessary to protest again.

Rader said he remains 100% convinced the 2020 presidential election was stolen and doesn’t second-guess his decision to go to Washington.

“I don’t regret going there,” he said. “I believe the election was stolen.”

He does wish he’d had better control of his emotions in the months leading up to the election. And once he arrived at the Capitol steps.

“I regret that I allowed my emotions to dictate my mind and my rational self,” he said. “I regret going inside.”







Kenneth Rader insurrection

A screen shot taken from surveillance footage shows Kenny Rader, of Sioux City, inside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. Rader was sentenced to 90 days in federal prison Thursday for entering the building that day.






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