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Lelling Says He Will Prosecute Any Mass. Resident Who Stormed Capitol

Massachusetts' top federal law enforcement official is promising to prosecute anyone from the state involved in Wednesday's mob in the nation's capitol. U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling issued a statement calling the unrest in Washington, D.C. "criminal,"  and saying "anyone who traveled from Massachusetts with the intent to commit such crimes will be prosecuted in the District of Massachusetts.”

Lelling, an appointee of President Trump, did not say what charges they might face. The Constitution protects free speech, he said, but it does not protect a "violent assault on government institutions," and "Americans on the right and left must learn the difference."

Pro-Trump extremists stormed the Capitol Wednesday, causing lawmakers to shelter in place before the building was evacuated, and delaying the certification of President-elect Joe Biden's victory. The certification eventually took place early Thursday morning. Four people died in the violence.

The FBI has asked for the public's help in identifying those involved.

"Our goal is to preserve the public’s constitutional right to protest by protecting everyone from violence and other criminal activity," an agency spokesperson said in a statement.

Dozens of people — some from New England — were arrested in Washington Wednesday. Most of the arrests were for unlawful entry or violating the curfew imposed Wednesday night after the violence erupted.

Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police said that among those arrested for "unrest-related activities " around the Capitol was 33-year-old David Ross of Massachusetts. He was charged with curfew violation and unlawful entry, although police did not respond to requests for specific information about the charges.

Capitol Police arrested 61-year-old Thomas Gallagher of Bridgewater, New Hampshire. He was charged with unlawful entry, although his specific alleged actions were also unclear.

Some of those who traveled from New England to Washington Wednesday to support President Trump posted about their activities on social media.

Dianna Ploss, who has led several pro-Trump rallies in Swampscott, posted on Twitter that she was in Washington during the storming of the Capitol. In a YouTube post Wednesday night, Ploss said, "It's not over. When it looks like we're down and out, we're not. I think that things are unfolding the way they needed to unfold."

Ploss did not respond to requests for comment.

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Deborah Becker Twitter Host/Reporter
Deborah Becker is a senior correspondent and host at WBUR. Her reporting focuses on mental health, criminal justice and education.

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