West Side Community Leader Joseph Bolanos reviewed how the FBI went after him. A phone call from a neighbor tipped off the FBI that he was one of the rioters who entered the Capitol building on Jan. 6.
Bolanos said he was at then–President Donald Trump’s rally on Jan. 6 and videotaped the scene outside of the Capitol. He had already left there before the breach occurred.
Reviewing the day of the breach, Bolanos said he watched Trump’s speech and filmed the crowd, which he saw was “friendly, like a political Woodstock,” and left the event early to return to his hotel.
The timestamp from his photograph showed that when the Capitol insurrection occurred, between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., Bolanos and his companions were already back in the hotel.
Wanting to know what would happen to the Electoral College count, the group went back to the Capitol and arrived at the rear of the structure at 2:45 p.m. This was when rioter Ashli Babbitt was fatally shot by Capitol police, but Bolanos said he was unaware of the violence due to the distance.
“There was no hint of violence … If you were shooting a movie at that location, you would never know anything had happened,” he said, reviewing that there was not any law enforcement officer around his place either.
In February, the FBI suddenly turned up at his door telling him that they received a tip he was among the rioters that entered the Capitol building. In the short interview with the federal agency, Bolanos complied to provide the videos he recorded, partially proving to them the tip was wrong.
Despite his fully corporative attitude, including the set of videos that Bolanos said demonstrated a peaceful crowd of pro-Trump supporters, the FBI decided—to his surprise—conduct more raids.
They returned with two anti-terrorism search warrants to his apartment in West 76th Street and his mother’s place in Washington Heights, confiscating all his devices. Bolanos was escorted out handcuffed and interrogated for four hours.
When he was detained, NBC was there to film the moment, and the way the camera crew narrated his situation was so uncomfortable he had a stroke soon afterward, as described by the Post.
Bolanos had not been charged so far, but he said the FBI’s unexpected move made him look like a domestic terrorist and destroyed his previous life as a dignified man.
“It’s destroyed my reputation,” he says. “I’m not a violent invader … I do not condone the criminality and violence on [Jan. 6] whatsoever.”
He said that his neighbors had turned on him and treated him as if he is in disgrace, and the emotional distress gave him two strokes since.
Speaking with the New York Post, Bolanos said he is “an independent at heart” Democrat who does not abhor Trump’s policies but also is not a pro-Trump supporter, unlike how the tipoff that summoned the FBI to his door may have described.
While the hints of an FBI orchestrated Capitol riot emerges, the relentless harrashment by the federal government aiming solely at Trump supporters, as the Post compared, resembles the chronic tactics seen in Communist China.