A year on from the Capitol attack by loyalist supporters of Donald Trump, many families are still reeling from members outing each other to law enforcement and offspring traumatized by their parents’ involvement in the insurrection.
Jackson Reffitt, a 19-year old from Texas, called the FBI weeks before his father, Guy Reffitt, stormed the US Capitol on January, saying that his father had been hinting at doing “something big”, Teen Vogue reported.
In text messages obtained by the magazine, Jackson’s younger sister texted their father in a family group chat, writing: “Dad, please be safe!! You know you are risking not only your business but your life too.”
Guy Reffitt replied: “I have no intention on throwing it away. I love ALL of you with ALL my heart and soul. This is for our country and for ALL OF YOU and your kids. God bless us, one and all … ”
Guy Reffitt has since been charged with numerous crimes.
The charges relate to obstruction of an official proceeding, obstruction of justice for threatening his children, transporting firearms with the intention of using them during the mob attack on the Capitol, and a misdemeanor charge of accessing Secret Service-protected grounds without lawful authority.
While in jail awaiting trial, the senior Reffitt texted news reports to the family group chat that featured photos of himself at the riots.
Jackson told Teen Vogue that as the attacks unfolded, live on television, he received a phone call from the FBI, asking him to confirm his father’s identity and he confirmed that it was his father at the riot.
Jackson now lives away from his family and rarely communicates with them.
“He used to be one of the best dads ever,” he told the magazine. “He made me the man I am today. He taught me to be honest, not to steal, all that cliche stuff. I believe he brought me up to do what I did.”
When Jackson does talk to his mother, she calls him “the Gestapo”, referring to Nazi secret police. His older sister, Sarah, 24, reportedly remains in disbelief towards Jackson.
According to Sarah, she knows that their father loves Jackson, which in turn makes her even more upset to accept the fact that her brother turned him in to the FBI.
“It’s hard not to condemn Jackson in defending my father,” she said. “I’m not gonna call [my dad] a hero for going [to the Capitol],” she added, but said: “He’s a hero to me because he’s my dad, but not for that.”
Sarah also does not think her father should be jailed as he awaits trial. Unlike the judge in Guy Reffitt’s case, she does not see her father as a danger to the community.
In a jailhouse letter obtained by ProPublica, Guy Reffitt wrote: “January 6 was nothing short of a satirical way to overthrow a government. If overthrow was the quest, it would have no doubt been overthrown.”
On Thursday, Joe Biden, and Liz Cheney, the Republican congresswoman and the co-chair of the Capitol attack select committee, spoke about how close the mob came to violently overturning the election result – but failed.
Meanwhile, Robyn Sweet, the 35-year-old daughter of a Virginia man, Douglas Sweet, is dealing with being the daughter of a Capitol Hill insurrectionist.
Douglas Sweet, a staunch Donald Trump supporter, has been sentenced to 36 months’ probation with one month of home detention, fined and ordered to perform community service.
Robyn Sweet said that once, when she was protesting against schools being named after Confederate generals, she saw her father across a parking lot, standing under a Confederate flag with his friends.
“It’s like we’re living these mirrored lives,” Robyn told the magazine. When a friend sent her a link to a news report that mentioned her father as one of the rioters arrested on 6 January, Robyn said she felt relieved because she knew he was safe.
Since then, Robyn and her father have limited their conversation topics to only light ones.
“We can’t even talk about religion, politics or current events,” she said.
While Jackson and Robyn continue to remain in touch with their families, albeit to different extents, 19-year-old Helena Duke has not spoken to her mother, Therese Duke, since the day she found out that her mother was part of the Capitol mob.
After a video showing Therese harassing a Capitol police officer and then being punched in the face surfaced online, Helena tweeted, in what has become a viral post: “Hi mom, remember the time you told me I shouldn’t go to [Black Lives Matter] protests because they could get violent … this you?”
Helena has since moved across the country from her mother and says that they are barely in contact.
“It horrifies me to this day that she did such a thing. I’ve attempted to close the last chapter of my life in order to heal fully,” Helena said.
Nevertheless, Helena mourns the relationship that she used to have with her mother. “As a child, my mother was my idol. She was the ‘fun mom’ who all my friends adored. She was so loving and full of life. I wish people knew how painful it is to grieve the life of a parent who is still living,” Helena said.
Since the riots, federal prosecutors have brought cases against 727 individuals over their involvement in the deadly riots.