Capitol Riot Attendee Says He Lost His Friends, Fiancée, and Job

  • Paul Davis lost his job, fiancée, and friends after he came home from the January 6 Capitol riot.
  • “Everything that I’d worked hard for for 10 years evaporated overnight,” he told Insider.
  • For a while, he said he experienced loneliness and believed he didn’t want to live anymore.

Paul Davis said his life fell apart after he attended the “Stop the Steal” rally and Capitol riot last year in Washington, DC.

Davis, an attorney from Frisco, Texas, told Insider he lost his job, fiancée, and friends after he came home from the on January 6, 2020, insurrection that left five people, including a Capitol Hill police officer, dead.

A day after the riot, the insurance firm where Davis had worked as an associate general counselor for seven months announced in a tweet that he had been fired. He eventually had to sell his home because he had no stream of income.

Davis, 40, said his fiancée started to act cold toward him after a local Texas news station tweeted out that he lived in Frisco. He said he feared a mob would show up outside his door and asked his dad to pick up his house keys from his fiancée and remove his guns and gold from the house. His fiancée refused to give his dad the keys, Davis recalled.

“I can’t do that,” Davis said she told him. “It’s too dangerous and I don’t want to be responsible.”

Two weeks after the Capitol riot, Davis’s fiancée left him and his friends cut ties, too.

“Everything that I’d worked hard for for 10 years evaporated overnight,” he said.

“I just didn’t want to go on,” he added, saying he felt isolated and alone. “I mean, I wanted to die. I really did. I was in so much emotional pain. I was so lonely. I didn’t know how to even move forward with my life.” He began to have panic attacks every night because of the looming uncertainty and loneliness that resulted from his participation at the Capitol during the riot, he said.

‘In my mind, I didn’t do anything wrong’

A picture of a man with brownish short curly hair in a black jacket and a tie with blue and orange stripes.

Courtesy of Paul Davis.

Photo by Kurt Nelson / Courtesy of Paul Davis

Capitol riot organizers were emboldened by former President Donald Trump’s urges to protest the results of the 2020 election, despite President Joe Biden’s election victory. While members of Congress were meeting inside the Capitol building day to certify the results, supporters organized an attempted coup and stormed the building.

Since the Capitol riot, lawmakers and law enforcement officers have detailed the trauma they say they experienced. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said she thought she was going to be raped and killed. She said she and a staffer had hid in the bathroom while a group of angry Trump supporters chanted her name.

“I thought I was going to die,” Ocasio-Cortez said last year in an emotional Instagram live. “I have never been quieter in my entire life.” She said in May of last year that she started to go to therapy.

Michael Fanone, a former officer with the Metropolitan Police Department, said in a gripping testimony to Congress last year that he had developed post-traumatic stress disorder from the riot. Fanone had been dragged down a set of stairs and beaten with a flagpole during the insurrection, according to prosecutors.

“This was nothing I had ever thought would be a part of my law-enforcement career,” Fanone said.

More than 770 people have been charged in connection with the insurrection, according to Insider’s database. In many cases, the FBI used social media posts to identify attendees.

Davis, who posted a video about his participation on Instagram, said he was “terrified” when he heard about the FBI crackdowns against those who had participated in the Capitol riot.

“In my mind, I didn’t do anything wrong,” he told Insider. “I didn’t cross any boundaries, I didn’t assault anybody, but I know that doesn’t matter a lot of times.”

An explosion caused by a police munition is seen while supporters of US President Donald Trump riot in front of the US Capitol Building in Washington, US, January 6, 2021.

An explosion caused by a police munition is seen while supporters of President Donald Trump riot in front of the Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 6, 2021.

Leah Millis/Reuters

Davis, who said he was “verbally protesting” the results of the presidential election, stands behind his belief that there was widespread voter fraud, a claim that’s baselessly touted by Trump and some Republican lawmakers. Meanwhile, nonpartisan experts say the 2020 election was one of the most secure in US history.

“When it’s the first time you conduct an election where almost half of the ballots are cast by mail, that’s not the most secure election in history,” Davis said. “Just by definition, because the official election can’t see who’s preparing the ballot. It’s an inherently less secure form of voting.”

Mail-in ballots are secure, according to a security expert from Columbia University. They’re sent out to voters in nested envelopes to ensure confidentiality, according to Steven M. Bellovin, a scholar in public policy and security issues at Columbia. Election security experts in a study published last month say increased mail-in voting due to the spread of the coronavirus in 2020 did not jeopardize the US election process. Instead, mail-in voting widened access to the ballot, making it easier for more citizens to vote.

The Trump campaign and the former president’s allies have filed and lost dozens of lawsuits in multiple battleground states to contest the results of the 2020 election. Allegations of voter fraud have been struck down and disproved numerous times since Trump and his lawyers presented their arguments.

Davis last year filed a lawsuit claiming the “entire 117th Congress is illegitimate and all actions taken since January 3, 2021, including the counting of the Electoral College votes and confirmation of Joseph Biden as President-Elect and the impeachment of President Donald J. Trump are null and void.”

‘I don’t regret going’

According to a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll conducted ahead of the one-year anniversary of the insurrection, 34 percent of Americans said action against the government is just violent at times.

“At the time I did what I felt was right,” Davis said, adding that he believes he was in the right for protesting the results of the 2020 presidential election. Today, though, he “probably wouldn’t have wanted to be part of” an event “used to demonize conservatives and patriots,” he said.

Davis previously told The New York Times he earned a “badge of honor” among conservatives for his presence during the riot. About a month after the riot, he started up a law firm, which focuses on employment law and represents in part clients who do not want to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. The firm got Davis “back on track” and helped him to move forward, he said.

“I mean, I would like to not live with that fear in the back of my mind, ‘Is the FBI coming for me?” Davis said. “I don’t regret going because I just feel like it was really part of God’s plan for my life.”

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