BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Pete Harding, the Cheektowaga man who was photographed at the U.S. Capitol in Washington during riots last week is facing two criminal charges during his virtual arraignment on Thursday.
EDITOR'S NOTE: 7 Eyewitness News has chosen to use Harding's booking photo on its digital and broadcast platforms in accordance to its mugshot policy. Harding's image falls into one of three protocol under which we publish mugshots: "The crime is sufficiently newsworthy that the inclusion of the person's image is of more significant value to the viewer." Read our mugshot policy here.
Harding was taken to jail in Niagara County on Wednesday after the FBI searched his home in Cheektowaga.
Harding has been charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.
These are misdemeanor charges. Defense says Harding contacted the FBI himself. @wkbw— Hannah Buehler (@HannahBuehler) January 14, 2021
The U.S. Government is proposing a conditional release for Harding, as the charges do not rise to the level of detention, while Harding's defense says it opposes some of the conditions.
According to prosecutors, Harding left his home and went to a friend’s house after the FBI poster with Harding on it was released on January 12th.
The complaint quotes a Facebook Live from Harding on January 7th where Harding said, "if we can take the Capitol building, there is nothing we can’t accomplish - county government, city government, town government, state government.”
Prosecutors say they are concerned about Harding’s potential involvement in other action related to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on January 20th. They pointed to his Facebook live, a day after the riots where he said, "If we can take the Capitol Building, there is nothing that we can't accomplish."
Prosecutors believe that Harding needs to have electronic monitoring while on release.
Harding's defense claims that Harding was not violent when he was in Washington.
Harding's release conditions are as follows
- Ordered to report to pretrial services in 24 hours, travel restricted to Western New York and the District of Columbia (court only)
- Remain at verifiable address that is approved (Cheektowaga address)
- Cannot possess guns or explosives
- Cannot contact witnesses
- Must pay for electronic monitoring
- Cannot obstruct with electronic monitoring
- Will have internet activity monitored
- Much consent to computer equipment searches
- Must show up to court appearances
- Must report any and all contact with police including being pulled over