BOSTON — For years, Vincent Gillespie fought a legal battle trying to take control of hundreds of paintings by his father, famed post-war American artist Gregory Gillespie.
On January 6, 2021, prosecutors say, Gillespie engaged in a very different kind of battle, joining the rioters as they tried to wrest control of the US Capitol from the federal government in one of the most violent confrontations ever. of the riot.
Gillespie, who investigators say was identified by half a dozen sources from footage taken that day, was among a crowd trying to make their way through a tunnel on the Lower West Terrace of the Capitol – an assault that almost succeeded according to its own description.
“We were almost getting them under control,” Gillespie, blood visible on his scalp during the confrontation, told an Associated Press reporter at the scene that day. “If you had 15 or 20 other guys behind us pushing, I think we could have won.”
The AP video that captured a red Gillespie that day strolling outside the Capitol, speaking defiantly about his role in the attack — and his lament that more like-minded individuals didn’t joined the fight – reveals both the depth of resolve of many of the rioters and the uncertainty felt by others as to what they would do once inside the building.
What is clear, federal investigators said, is that Gillespie participated in a violent struggle against law enforcement officials trying to keep rioters from entering the building as a joint session of the Congress was engaged in certifying Electoral College votes.
The Athol, Mass. resident was spotted outside the Capitol pouring water in his eyes, apparently to combat the effects of chemical sprays used in an attempt to control crowds.
Gillespie told the AP at the scene that day that he was among those trying to storm the building. Gillespie said he and others tried to drill an opening.
“I was with other guys. And then we started pushing them around and they were beating us and putting pepper spray in your eyes. But there was a bunch of people pushing behind us,” Gillespie told the PA.
“What you need to know, and nobody’s going to listen to this, we were very (expletive) close.” If more people had been behind him, he said, “then there’s this second set of doors that we would have just blown up.”
What was apparently less clear to Gillespie that day was what he and the others with him would do if they had been able to take over the Capitol.
“I hope they will flock so that they cannot do anything. That’s what I hope they will do. Take over. Take over. Own it for a few days. I’m not an anarchist, but you can’t let what happened in this election go,’ he said, an apparent reference to former President Donald Trump’s claims of a stolen election. .
Although he was quick to give his name when asked by the AP reporter, Gillespie hesitated before saying where he was from.
“They’re coming after me, man,” he said hesitantly before adding, “I’m in Massachusetts.”
Gillespie ultimately faced seven counts, including civil disturbance, assault of officers, and disorderly conduct on Capitol Hill. He pleaded not guilty.
He is among more than 775 people arrested in nearly 50 states and the District of Columbia in connection with the Jan. 6 assault in which the pro-Trump mob sought to block the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory in 2020. Rioters smashed windows, kicked down doors, and beat and bloodied law enforcement officers who were completely unprepared for the crowds.
Vincent Gillespie is the son of Gregory Gillespie, the artist whose self-portraits, fantastical landscapes and geometric abstractions are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and other museums. .
Her paintings are also at the center of a long-running and so far unsuccessful legal battle that Gillespie has waged against her mother-in-law and her lawyers in an attempt to challenge control of the paintings. In a 2020 court filing, Vincent Gillespie described his father as a renowned artist who left more than 400 valuable paintings when he died.
Gillespie’s involvement in the events of January 6, 2021 appears to be well documented, including in photos and videos that helped prognosticators identify him, investigators said.
Open-source video and security cameras captured multiple images of Gillespie participating in the riot, according to the Justice Department.
The investigators were warned by a former neighbor, the manager of a local hardware store and employees of the commune of Athol, where Gillespie attends meetings and settles his tax bills at the town hall. A total of six witnesses independently identified him from footage taken during the riot.
In the chaos of the insurgency, Gillespie shoved, shouted, pushed and fought with police, the FBI said. Footage included in his court papers shows him struggling through the crowd, eventually maneuvering through the rioters to the police line and taking control of a police shield.
He saw and heard on body camera of a Metropolitan Police Department officer pushing his way through the crowd, using a police shield to ram officers and shouting ‘traitor’ and ‘treason’ as he means a law enforcement officer, officials said.
After his arrest, Gillespie, 60, was ordered by a judge to stay away from Washington except for court-related matters. He was ordered not to possess a firearm or other weapons.
Gillespie’s next court appearance is scheduled for April 29 before U.S. District Chief Judge Beryl Howell of the District of Columbia.
Contacted by the AP following his arrest, Gillespie declined to comment.
“My lawyer advised against it. He said there were only inconveniences,” he told the AP. . »
This isn’t Gillespie’s first time in court.
Years earlier, Gillespie had made local headlines when he challenged a $15 parking ticket — despite having to pay $250 in filing fees. He ended up fighting the filing fee, which was non-refundable, all the way to the state’s highest court in 2011.
He did not receive a refund.