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Couy Griffin poses with Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House on September 12, 2019. Photo: White House
Federal prosecutors label Cowboys for Trump figure ‘racist’ for attacks on Native and Black people
Tuesday, January 19, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Republican county official who participated in the violence on the U.S. Capitol is being labeled a “racist” by federal prosecutors for his attacks on Native and Black people.

Couy Griffin disrespected a traditional Native blessing and suggested Black athletes should “go back to Africa,” a memorandum filed in federal court on Tuesday reads. His “threatening” activity on social media even got him banned by the Mescalero Apache Tribe, government attorneys noted.

“The defendant is the founder and leader of a political committee called, ‘Cowboys for Trump,’ on whose behalf he has engaged in inflammatory, racist, and at least borderline threatening advocacy,” the 11-page document reads.


Last September, Griffin posted two videos that landed him in trouble with the Mescalero Apache Tribe, whose homelands are located in southern New Mexico. The second was titled “Cowboys and Indians” and it showed him laughing at an Apache blessing as a second person makes a joke about Democrats.

“As a result of this incident, the nearby Mescalero Apache Tribe banned the defendant from entering its tribal lands,” federal prosecutors in the nation’s capital noted.

The ban occurred the videos were posted to on the “Cowboys for Trump” social media page. At the time, Mescalero Apache President Gabe Aguilar said Griffin, who serves as an elected official in Otero County, was spreading misinformation about his people, including an elder.

“It’s bad enough that he posted that first video. This second video is offensive,” Aguilar said in explaining the tribe’s stance. “Tribal blessings are not comical and are not to be used to make political statements.”

But the rebuke did little to stop Griffin from continuing his threatening behaviors, according to federal prosecutors. After the January 6 attack, during which five people lost their lives, including a police officer, he posted another “Cowboys for Trump” video in which he said going to show up for the inauguration of Democratic President-elect Joe Biden.

In the video, which prosecutors said has since been deleted, he hinted of further bloodshed,, the kind that prompted the Mescalero Apache Tribe to go on “heightened alert” after the violence in Washington, D.C.

“You know, and if we do, then it’s gonna be a sad day, because there’s gonna be blood running out of that building,” Griffin said in reference to the U.S. Capitol, where Biden will be sworn into office as the 46th president of the United States on Wednesday.

Griffin made good on his apparent threat. After telling fellow commissioners in Otero County at a special meeting last Thursday that he was about to leave New Mexico for D.C. — with firearms in tow — he showed up over the weekend. He was arrested on on Sunday, on a major street right next to the U.S. Capitol complex.

“The defendant has repeatedly denied the legitimacy of the 2020 Presidential Election, has stated that Biden will never be president, and foresees ‘blood running out of the; U.S. Capitol in connection with efforts to prevent a Biden presidency, and has stated that ‘nothing is off the table’ in preventing a Biden presidency,” prosecutors wrote on Tuesday.

The government’s memorandum seeks an order requiring Griffin’s continued detention in the nation’s capital. It cites his “racist invective” as among the reasons he should be kept locked up pending trial.

“The defendant’s inflammatory conduct, repeated threats, delusional worldview, and access to firearms makes him a danger to the community,” the filing states.

Griffin has been charged with violating federal law at 18 U.S. Code 1752 (a)(1). According to the criminal complaint, which was filed last Friday, he is accused of “Knowingly Entering or Remaining in any Restricted Building or Grounds Without Lawful Authority.”

A conviction could result in a fine or up a prison term of up to 10 years, if dangerous weapons or firearms were involved, or if the “offense results in significant bodily injury,” according to the U.S. Code.

Standing on the South Lawn of the White House, Couy Griffin watches Donald Trump depart the White House on Marine One on September 12, 2019. Photo: Shealah Craighead / White House

Griffin, 47, won election to the Otero County Commission in November 2018, in what was his first run for public office. Despite his recent arrival to politics, he quickly became a star among Republicans for his stalwart support for Donald Trump.

In February 2019, Griffin participated in a horseback ride from Maryland to the White House. Trump was so flattered that he called the county official up on the phone to thank him for the support.

Later that year, Griffin was back at the White House. Only this time, he got to go inside, where he met with Trump in the Oval Office. He also got to watch Trump leave the White House on Marine One, the official U.S. Marine Corps aircraft that transports the president.

Inside Edition: Protester Couy Griffin Says He’s Not Sorry for Assault on Capitol

But after Republicans learned of Griffin’s presence at the January 6 attack and of his threats of further violence in D.C., they began to distance themselves.

“Mr. Griffin does not represent The Republican Party of New Mexico nor does he speak for the party,” said Steve Pearce, a former member of U.S. Congress whose represented a district that includes Otero County.

“RPNM does not endorse or condone the statements made by Cowboys for Trump Founder Couy Griffin, said Pearce, who chairs the state GOP, said two days after the attack. “RPNM condemns violence and any threats of violence against any person or group. What happened in Washington was wrong and was a stain on our great democracy.”

According to federal prosecutors, Griffin’s work history includes a stint as a “western or cowboy performer” for the Walt Disney Company in Paris, France. He also was a preacher in Otero County and was running a barbecue restaurant when he ran for office in 2018.