Citizen Sleuths Launch A Slick New Website To Hunt Down Capitol Insurrectionists
Some of the citizen sleuths behind the open-source effort to identify the hundreds of Donald Trump-loving rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol have launched an impressive new website that organizes the stunning amount of digital evidence collected about the Jan. 6 insurrection.
The website, Jan6evidence.com, was built by a small team of volunteer software developers, using the work of open-source investigators looking into the deadly Capitol attack. The site features a color-coded timeline that reflects the time of day, and allows users to click around on a map of the Capitol and pull up any video evidence from a particular location and time frame. Users can even track an individual suspect’s movements over the course of Jan. 6.
HuffPost was given an early look at the website by a software engineer who is helping to lead the project. The engineer said the site “is nothing without the enormous work of the open source investigators making their results available to all, and especially those helping to prepare results into a standardized format for display.” They credited the “extraordinarily careful work” of Twitter users like @K2theSky, @CoryCullington and @MasaSpalatin with making the effort possible.
“Open source investigators, professional journalists, and law enforcement are all undertaking the painstaking, labor-intensive work of scrutinizing video and photos related to the attack,” the software engineer said. “Our aim is to make it much [more] efficient to review that media, so that they can most effectively investigate what happened on January 6 and why.”
Online investigators have already made major contributions to the “unprecedented” federal investigation to find and charge the hundreds of suspects who stormed the Capitol on Trump’s behalf. The work of online sleuths is increasingly being cited in FBI affidavits, now that federal authorities are starting to move past “low-hanging fruit” cases against the most viral insurrectionists who were immediately identified in the media after the riot. The open-source work also helped HuffPost confirm the identities of Trump fanatics caught on video assaulting police officers at the Capitol, including Robert Scott Palmer of Florida and Danny “DJ” Rodriguez of California.
Earlier this week, online sleuths associated with @capitolhunters and working with the #SeditionHunters network launched Jan6attack.com, which organizes crowdsourced information on individual suspects identified by photo and hashtag. The information previously existed in Google spreadsheets, but is now available in a more user-friendly format.
While some online sleuths have grown frustrated after their tips to the Bureau don’t result in any public action for weeks or even months, the FBI has made clear that the public’s efforts really are helping.
“It’s clear through the arrests we’ve already made that the public has been crucial in identifying these people, so putting these pictures out on social media has definitely helped get a further reach,” an FBI official previously told HuffPost. “The tips have been crucial.”
“This is a ridiculously helpful tool, and a great example of the maturing process that volunteer efforts have undergone since the early days,” John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, told HuffPost of Jan6evidence.com. “I’m very excited to see it out, and I’m very confident it’s going to help a lot of people who are digging on this case.”
Scott-Railton said the effort also offers a lesson that Capitol insurrectionists should’ve kept in mind on Jan. 6.
“Don’t piss off software developers,” he said.
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