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Feds: Knoxville man illegally entered U.S. Capitol during Jan. 6 riot, carrying "Stop the Steal" sign

Cliff Meteer is named in a complaint that'll be prosecuted in U.S. District Court in Washington. "We weren't making trouble," he later told a friend.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A Knoxville man who carried a "Stop the Steal" sign and later declared "I was there" during the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection was arrested Tuesday by federal authorities at a North Knox County home.

Records identify the man as Clifford James Meteer, 66. The FBI and other personnel went to a home on Foust Hollow Road to take him into custody.

"I'm not ashamed. I'm proud of it," Meteer said.

Credit: FBI
Photo of Trump supporters outside Capitol Jan. 6. Meteer can be seen on the right, FBI says.

Meteer said he was at the Capitol to "stop the steal" of the election. Judges in more than 50 federal lawsuits said there is no evidence that the election was stolen or that there was widespread voter fraud. 

Like hundreds of other men and women there to support President Donald Trump that afternoon, Meteer will face prosecution in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

He's charged in a federal complaint with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building, among other charges.

Credit: FBI
Authorities say this is Clifford Meteer on Jan. 6 in Washington.

According to a complaint, he traveled to Washington on Jan. 5 and joined the crowd the next day as it stormed Congress as lawmakers prepared to certify Joe Biden's victory as the next president.

Court records include multiple photos of Meteer inside and outside the hall of democracy Jan. 6. He carried a two-sided sign - featuring "Stop the Steal" on one side and "Save the Republic" on the other, the government alleges.

Credit: FBI
Cliff Meteer entering the Capitol, according to the FBI.

A relative tipped the government off that he'd taken part in the protest. An old classmate also helped give the government information about his participation there, submitting a photo from Meteer's Facebook page that showed him holding his sign.

"After receiving the tips regarding METEER’s involvement, law enforcement reviewed numerous surveillance videos from the U.S. Capitol building," an FBI affidavit with the complaint states. "A man whose appearance is consistent with the person identified by Witness 1 and Witness 2 can be seen walking throughout the Capitol building for approximately 30 minutes.

"Based on my training and experience, and my personal comparison of the Capitol building video footage with METEER’s Facebook photographs, DMV records, and the information from Witness 1 and Witness 2, the man seen in the video footage is CLIFF METEER."

In the days after the uprising, Meteer talked about his participation on Facebook, the government alleges.

Credit: FBI
Meteer told someone on Facebook in a message, "I was one of those idiots scaling the wall ;)"

On Facebook, Meteer also traded messages and shared photos explaining what he'd been doing inside the building.

"We weren't making trouble," he wrote.

He also wrote, "I was very near where the vet (Ashli Babbitt) was shot."

In an interview with 10News, Meteer claimed the riots in the Capitol were not as bad as portrayed. 

"There was no concerted effort to storm the barricades, it was all very church social," Meteer said. "It was a bunch of old people, grandparents."

U.S. Prosecutors estimated damage to the Capitol to be in excess of $1.5 million. 

Several other men with East Tennessee ties have been charged in the riots including Joseph Padilla of Cleveland and Bryan Wayne Ivey of Crossville.

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