Among those buying Kristi Noem’s recruiting pitch and moving to South Dakota for Freedom was one James Haffner, age 53, a Seattle man who moved to Sturgis and got a South Dakota driver’s license shortly after January 6, 2021… on which date, according to the United States Department of Justice, Haffner and his Seattle neighbor Ronald Loehrke participated in the Trumpist insurrection against Congress.
In the early afternoon of Jan. 6, Loehrke and Haffner marched with a group along Constitution Avenue NW, towards the Capitol. Nordean was at the front of the group. Shortly after 1 p.m., Loehrke and Haffner joined a crowd that had overwhelmed a pedestrian gate and advanced toward the Capitol building, dismantling barricades along the way. Both were among the first to get past various barricades on the west side of the Capitol building. At one point, Loehrke shouted, “Don’t back down, patriots!”
Loehrke and Haffner moved to the east side of the Capitol and participated in dismantling and moving police barricades that protected the restricted area on that side of the building. Both defendants then climbed the stairs on the Capitol’s east side and headed to the Columbus Doors. Once there, Haffner raised his hand and sprayed an aerosol substance at U.S. Capitol Police officers who were trying to guard the doors. Shortly after Haffner sprayed officers, rioters breached the doors and entered the Capitol. Once inside, Loehrke is captured on video and still photos in a confrontation with police and also inside a Senate office [U.S. Department of Justice, press release, 2021.12.03].
Loehrke and Haffner were recruited by the Seattle Proud Boys. One of the images in the FBI complaint, captured at 6:23 in this video from Albuquerque-based ABQ RAW, appears to show Haffner wearing a red Trump cap and a black shirt reading, “FREE KYLE”, a reference to now-freed killer and domestic terrorist-beloved Kyle Rittenhouse.
DOJ has charged Haffner with obstruction of law enforcement during a civil disorder, unlawful violent entry on restricted buildings or grounds, entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, and assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers or employees. SDPB reports Haffner is the first South Dakota resident charged for participation in the January 6 insurrection.