Jan. 17, 2021 by David Silverberg
Was the assault and riot at the United States Capitol on Jan. 6 an elaborate plot by nefarious globalists using a tiny cadre of paid actors to create a scenario to cast President Donald Trump in a bad light? Or were the real inciters the legislators inside the building who were working to certify the presidential election?
Those are the views of two Southwest Floridians who were present at the Jan. 6 insurrection and have very vocally and publicly given their accounts of what occurred.
One is Francis Alfred Oakes III, better known locally as Alfie, a fervent Trumper and anti-mask activist, the owner of Seed to Table market, who transported demonstrators to Washington, DC.
The other is Christy McLaughlin, a 25-year-old conservative from Ave Maria who ran for Congress as a Republican candidate in the 19th Congressional District last year.
The riot at the Capitol was a defining and very public moment in American history. It was broadcast in real time. Millions of Americans either watched the attack as it happened or have seen some elements of it in some form of media.
So, do you think you know what happened? Compare and contrast your knowledge with what these two local activists say occurred. But first, let’s introduce our protagonists.
Alfie Oakes is well known in Southwest Florida as a farmer and grocer emphasizing organic produce—and lately as an outspoken political activist.
According to the Oakes Farms official history, it was Alfie’s father, Francis “Frankie” Alfred Oakes Jr., who opened a family produce stand and moved farming operations to Naples after 10 years of operating in east Fort Myers. His son Alfie opened a wholesale produce business in Immokalee until a frost killed his crops in 1989.
That disaster led Alfie to travel around the country and to Honduras to import tomatoes to Florida. Over the next eight years he brokered farm deals, expanded his wholesale business and began farming again.
Meanwhile, his father began experimenting with organic growing as a hobby. It went from a hobby to a business to an expanding enterprise to the point where in 2005 he opened Food & Thought as a “militantly” organic grocery in Naples that became a cultural center for shoppers seeking healthful products.
Frankie died in 2013. Alfie kept successfully expanding the business and branched out into other endeavors. He won contracts to supply the Lee and Collier County school districts and in October 2017 a $40 million federal contract to supply the southern district of Florida. In August 2018, Oakes announced that he had won a $46.8 million contract from the US Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) to supply food to the US military.
Within days of the announcement of the DLA win, on Aug. 19 Oakes posted the first political manifesto to gain widespread attention on the Oakes Farms Market Facebook page.
In a lengthy screed, Oakes attacked the Democratic Party, the public education system, the mainstream media and the administration of President Barack Obama. [Editor’s note: spelling, capitalization, grammar and usage, his.]
“I along with many of my fellow Americans are shocked by the current actions of many of our younger generation along with the Democratic party recently morphing into all out socialism,” he wrote. “Unfortunately most of our younger generation have purposely never been exposed to the truth about history and the greatness of our founding fathers wisdom, even current events are censored from the MSM [mainstream media] to support their one world order narrative.”
He continued: “The puppeteers that orchestrate the MSM, most of our universities, the DNC [Democratic National Committee] along with the Obama administration have been pushing for a one world order that would ultimately destroy the opportunity for the individual.”
He concluded: “We must with all our might reject socialism and adhere to the genius of the christian principles that our founding father so masterfully created (through the hand of GOD in my opinion) so that we may continue to be the beacon of the world for individual prosperity and freedom.”
Coming as it did in the midst of Trump’s controversial and disruptive administration, the post created a furor, both driving supportive customers to his stores and at the same time driving away offended potential customers.
There was more controversy to come. Oakes had been renovating a 75,000-square foot facility in North Naples. After five years of work and a $30 million investment, he opened Seed to Table, a mega-grocery and deluxe supermarket in December 2019.
Seed to Table might have been a non-controversial business welcoming to all, except that Alfie continued his outspoken political pronouncements.
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis, Minn., on May 25, 2020, sparking demonstrations across the country and giving new impetus to the Black Lives Matter movement.
On June 6, 2020 Oakes posted on Facebook: “The COVID19 hoax did not work to bring down our great President and now this…the black lives matter race hoax…REALLY …how about ALL lives matter!!” He called George Floyd “a disgraceful career criminal , thief , drug addict , drug dealer and ex-con” and stated that people had “allowed themselves to be controlled by deceit and fear” by “the corrupt world powers and their brainwashing arms of the media.”
The post outraged people across Southwest Florida and led to a demonstration in front of Seed to Table. It prompted the Lee and Collier school districts to cancel their contracts, which in turn prompted Oakes to sue them for breach of contract.
Nor did Oakes confine himself to Facebook posts; he vehemently and actively fought anti-COVID mask mandates in Collier County and Naples and when the county did impose a mask mandate, he refused to honor it and sued the county in opposition. (A judge dismissed 11 of his 14 counts in November.) He called county commissioners who voted for the mandates “socialists” and “tyrants” and refused to comply with the mandates.
Seed to Table was a stronghold of pro-Trump/Pence sentiment and activity during the 2020 election. When Biden was initially named the winner, Trumpers demonstrated against the outcome on the corner outside the store. As Trump fought the results and baselessly declared them fraudulent, Oakes supported his claims of a rigged election.
So when Trump called on his supporters to contest the election results when they were scheduled to be certified on Jan. 6, Oakes rented two buses to transport about 100 demonstrators to what was expected to be a peaceful demonstration in Washington.
Oakes was there when, incited by Trump, the rally turned into a riot and an attack on the Capitol building. It is not certain from available accounts whether he was in the crowd that breached the Capitol and trashed the interior, although a video appears to show him exhorting the crowd that “It’s time to fight! They’re taking our freedom! Come on! Come on!”
This, full and unedited, is the account he gave on Facebook:
“Unfortunately anyone that was not at the Trump rally on Jan 6th has to navigate through the lies and blatant and obvious deception perpetrated by the media, I was there …it was the most peaceful beautiful demonstration from well over one million people that I’ve ever witnessed.
“To be tarnished by .001% is really sad!
“As hard as it is for good and honest people to believe this was a total set up to make President Trump and his supporters look bad,I am assuring you it was just that! I have to hand it to them it was an incredibly clever tactic orchestrated by those that will stop at nothing to ensure the Globalist take over of our United States. I watched with my own eyes as Capitol police invited happy and enthusiastic Trump supporters into the Capitol. They were totally unsuspecting they would be part of the ruse.
“Leading the group was the obvious six or eight paid actors(used in other events such as BLM riots, hard to believe they would be that blatant and sloppy) … followed by a small group of aggressive Trump supporters caught up in the moment, these paid actors lead the charge. Out of nearly 1 1/2 million great loving peaceful Americans supporting Liberty, Freedom and our great President this small handful incited by the paid actors unfortunately chose to cross the line. Let’s not forget that one of these unfortunate souls a 15 yr military veteran and mother caught up in the moment, completely unarmed lost her life at point-blank range ALL for the sole purpose of legitimizing this planned event!
“I have now found ONE thing that I completely agree on with the ever corrupt main stream media on…..This is truly one of the lowest days in our country’s history!”
Christy McLaughlin is a Naples, Fla., native and a graduate of Florida Gulf Coast University and Ave Maria School of Law. According to her official biography, she interned at the Florida state attorney’s office in the 20th District for two summers and for a judge of the 20th Circuit Court. In the summer of 2019 she interned in the office of Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-25-Fla.). On her campaign website she stated that she sat for the Florida Bar but did not state if she passed the examination.
In March 2020 she announced her candidacy for Congress in the 19th Congressional District to replace the retiring Francis Rooney. At the time she was 24 years old—ineligible to serve in Congress—but she turned 25 during the summer, meeting the constitutional qualification.
McLaughlin ran on a vehemently pro-Trump platform, stating that she supported “all of President Trump’s agenda. I have supported President Trump since he descended the escalator.” She called him “the greatest president ever” and took positions against abortion and gun regulation.
In the Republican primary McLaughlin received only 4.1 percent of the vote, or 4,245 votes.
Despite her overwhelming defeat in the primary, McLaughlin continued her conservative activism, particularly when it came to COVID mask mandates, opposing them in person and online.
McLaughlin kicked into high gear in November 2020 after former Vice President Joe Biden was called the winner based on preliminary results, pointing out that “the media cannot call an election. Only states can certify elections.”
She was active in denouncing efforts to conclude the election. “Cowardly Republican leaders like Mitch McConnell are going to push Trump to concede. These RINOs [Republicans In Name Only] are Deep State agents who only want to line their pockets and acquire more clout,” she complained—and she alleged that some of her Facebook posts were censored.
In the days after the election was called for Biden, she labeled herself a “constitutional warrior” and created a website around the term, hoping to attract adherents.
On Dec. 3, McLaughlin organized a fundraiser to support Republican Senate candidates in Georgia. The advertised speaker was John DiLemme, founder of the Conservative Business Journal. But the real star of the show was Enrique Tarrio, chairman of the Proud Boys, which The Washington Post has described as “a far-right group with a history of violence and a reputation for instigating roving street fights with counterdemonstrators.”
The event was held at The Counter restaurant in the Naples Mercato, where Tarrio spoke.
On Dec. 5, The Paradise Progressive submitted the following questions to The Counter’s management chain, Kahala Management, in Scottsdale, Ariz., since there was no e-mail address available for the local branch.
- Did the Naples Counter serve as official host of the meeting or was it just the meeting location?
- Was the Naples Counter aware of the meeting beforehand?
- Does The Counter as a chain/company endorse the Proud Boys and their philosophy?
To date no response has been received.
“There is something good that has come out of the ‘contested’—in air quotes, contested—election,” he said. “There was obvious voter fraud. They’ve practically stolen this election. But we’re not going to let them. We’re not going to go quietly.”
He continued: “Proud Boys is just a regular group of guys. There’s nothing special about regular men. But there is something when those men have this passion and this love for this country” and “1776 will commence again.” He inducted the 20 or so people present into the Proud Boys by having them repeat: “I’m a western chauvinist. And I refuse to apologize for creating the modern world. We’re all Proud Boys.” (Tarrio was arrested in Washington, DC prior to Jan. 6 for burning a Black Lives Matter banner during a previous protest. He was not present during the Capitol riot or preceding rally.)
McLaughlin agreed with Trump and those echoing his claims of a fraudulent election—and the need to contest the results. “It is time we prepare for battle,” she stated on Dec. 14. “Only the true Patriots will be standing on the Frontlines metaphorically or not to protect this Country! SCOTUS [Supreme Court of the United States] will not protect us, RINOs will not protect us. Only We The People can protect us.”
As is well known, Trump lost every legal challenge to the results of the election. The states certified their results and the Electoral College confirmed Joe Biden’s victory. The only act remaining was scheduled for Jan. 6, when Congress would certify the Electoral College results to finalize the election. Trump called for a rally in Washington to oppose the certification. “Big protest in DC on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!” he tweeted.
“Trump is not going anywhere!!” stated McLaughlin. “If they steal the election (which we are fighting and marching against) he will lead us in a Revolution of a fair and free nation.”
McLaughlin headed up to Washington, DC, where on Jan. 5 she addressed a small crowd on the steps of the Supreme Court.
“We are all warriors here,” she said. “Some say that we’re at the beginning of Communism. I disagree. We are living it right now. And unless we take a stand tomorrow, one final stand, we will forever lose this country.”
She cited her family’s escape from Cuba in 1961 and charged that the US Department of Education “has worked with the mainstream media to indoctrinate our students so they bow to tyranny.” She said she was suing the department for what she alleged was discrimination against conservatives.
“Now, we have a revolution tomorrow,” she told the crowd. “Our representatives have exactly one job: and that means to be the voice of the people. I’m from Florida. We delivered a landslide victory for President Trump. I want my representatives and all representatives to object.”
After leading the crowd in chants, she said: “we are the chosen ones to deliver a free and fair election to the United States.”
The next day the mob assaulted the Capitol. It is not clear at this time from available sources whether McLaughlin was among the assailants who breached the building.
However, she was moved to write an op-ed in The Washington Times, Washington’s conservative daily newspaper that appeared on Jan. 11.
In the op-ed McLaughlin said that while she didn’t diminish the loss of life in the Capitol riot, she preferred to remember the demonstration’s more peaceful aspects.
“…The actions of the very few have sullied the narrative from a beautiful sight of patriotism and unity to mindless chaos and purposeless violence,” she complained. “But, I lay the blame squarely at the feet of the leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives.”
In McLaughlin’s view, members of Congress “had a duty to transparently debate the substantive allegations of wide-spread voter fraud on the merits in a public forum. Congress failed the American people by cloaking the proceedings in secrecy.” The counting of the Electoral College ballots was a “charade” without debate or investigation. “A government that acts in the middle of the night under cover of darkness and curfews, cloaked in secrecy, with no transparency is no monument to democracy.”
Unlike the Trumpers, she charged, “The Democratic Party was united and held the line. Their coalition of Marxist, mainstream media, Big Tech, deep state operatives, anarchists, globalists, industrial war machine corporations and hostile foreign entities worked together like a symphony to wrest the will of the people from the people.”
Analysis: Facts and fiction
So, was the assault on the Capitol the work of a very few people, possibly paid actors, who led otherwise peaceful, patriotic Americans astray, as Oakes and McLaughlin allege?
On Jan. 14, Grace Segers, a political reporter with CBS who was in the Capitol during the attack, addressed a roundtable held by the Press Club of Southwest Florida and was asked that question.
The allegations of paid actors or a tiny minority leading the charge, she said, “are absolutely ridiculous. There’s absolutely no evidence of that.”
She continued: “A lot of these people were not militia members. They were normal people who came to the Capitol because they thought violence was a corrective. They were Trump supporters. Some said they were doing this at the president’s urging. They were wearing MAGA hats.”
The idea that the riot was the result of a conspiracy or outside forces “is really insidious. It allows people to cast off responsibility,” she said.
Oakes’ account of the Capitol siege is largely absurd on the face of it: it is clear both from the televised images and subsequent investigations that the assault on the Capitol was conducted not by a tiny minority or “six or eight” agitators but by thousands of agitated people attacking the building from all sides, smashing in doors and windows and breaching police lines. Further, if it was led by “paid actors” how would he even know they were paid actors? Did he ask them?
Oakes’ accounting of the crowd’s size is equally absurd: his varying estimates put the crowd at anywhere from a million to 2 million. The National Park Service, which has the responsibility for estimating crowds, expected the crowd at the Ellipse rally to be 30,000. While a definitive estimate of the numbers swarming the Capitol is not yet available, it was clearly in the thousands, if not tens of thousands.
(Author’s note: This author was in Washington during President Barack Obama’s first inauguration when the crowd size was officially estimated at 1.2 million, the largest inaugural crowd to ever gather. It is clear from the photos and television coverage that the Jan. 6 crowd was nowhere near that number.)
Did blame for the attack rest with the lawmakers inside the building, as McLaughlin maintains?
This too is absurd. The representatives of the House and the senators were following a legally prescribed procedure for certifying the Electoral College votes. They fully debated the objections to the count raised by members. Their count found Joe Biden the legal winner of the 2020 presidential election. The purpose of the attack was to stop that count and in a larger sense destroy the legislative branch of the American government.
Were the legislators acting “in the middle of the night under cover of darkness and curfews, cloaked in secrecy, with no transparency,” as she claims?
In fact the complete opposite was true. The counting procedure—and that’s what it was, a counting and certification procedure—was being done in the full light of day, in the full sight of the public, without any cover or secrecy at all. The only reason that the final certification occurred in the early hours of the next morning was because the insurrection interrupted the count, as it was intended to do.
These myths of the attack on American government being the work of a tiny, violent minority, paid actors, the victims, a vast conspiracy, a lying media, and an intricate setup are all lesser myths deriving from the one big lie perpetrated by Donald Trump: that the election was fraudulent and was stolen from him. These myths are not unique to Oakes and McLaughlin, they’re a collective justification and rationalization by the perpetrators for an unjustified, irrational and ultimately criminal act incited by a criminal president.
Like a hangover the day after a binge, the rioters now have a headache, some are shameful, they’re being condemned and they all have to wonder if they’ll be prosecuted. In the sober light of day they have to explain their behavior to themselves, their families and possibly the police. These myths are the way they do it while avoiding blame or responsibility.
In his book Disloyal, Trump’s fixer and attorney Michael Cohen described Trump’s dynamics, first in business and then as president.
Cohen writes: “I was sharing the Trump delusion. But that was the alchemy, and I see it traveling throughout the White House and beyond all the time. In defending the indefensible, you can’t resort to reason or facts or good business practices; you can’t appeal to conscience or justice or fairness. All that is left is what I resorted to, and what Trump displays so often: rage.”
On Jan. 6 Trump transmitted his rage to his followers, who then carried it to the Capitol of the United States where they vented it on a branch of government that checked Trump’s delusions and drive for total, unrestricted domination. The government of the United States was working as intended according to its Constitution. It was this that enraged Trump and that his followers channeled into a day of broken glass and violence and death.
Despite his and their efforts, the attack failed. The election was certified. Trump has been impeached. On Wednesday, Jan. 20 at noon, Joe Biden is scheduled to take the oath of office as president.
One can only hope that, like repairs to the Capitol building itself, conscience, justice and fairness will be restored to the nation.
Liberty lives in light
© 2021 by David Silverberg