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'Freedom!': Cooke County GOP Precinct Chair and Wife Arrested over Capitol Riot

Two more North Texans have been arrested in relation to the Jan. 6 insurrection.EXPAND
Two more North Texans have been arrested in relation to the Jan. 6 insurrection.
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As police desperately tried to stop an angry mob from storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, North Texas’ Mark Middleton pushed back against the barricade, federal authorities say. Decked out in a red, white and blue Trump beanie, Middleton hurled insults at the officers.

“Fuck you!” Middleton screamed, according to court documents. Three-and-a-half months later, he’d be arrested.

Middleton is a GOP precinct chair in Cooke County, around 85 miles north of Dallas. His wife, Jalise, was also with him that day. But now, the Forestburg couple is facing seven charges apiece for their alleged involvement in the Jan. 6 insurrection.

According to court records detailing the Middletons’ alleged actions, Mark grabbed an officer’s hand over the barricade and appeared to yank him forward. Meanwhile, Jalise repeatedly struck the officer with her left hand, her diamond-encrusted gold wedding ring sparkling.

The two continued striking police as “various flags” were thrust in the officers’ faces. Although the couple denied entering the building, they did tell friends on social media they made it to the steps outside the Capitol.

In a video posted to Mark’s Facebook account, he claimed that he and Jalise had been “pepper sprayed, clubbed and teargassed” before retreating from the “front lines.” But “more patriots” charged forward to “[take] back our house,” he said.

“No more fooling around!” Middleton said in the video, according to court documents. “Jalise and I gotta go back to the hotel and try to recoup and change, get dry clothes on. Make America great again! Freedom!”

The Middletons were arrested on Wednesday, according to the Gainesville Daily-Register. They were released from jail the next day, although their bond information remains under seal.

Billy Jack Stovall II, Mark’s attorney, said the two have entered a plea of not guilty.

The Observer attempted to reach the Middletons by phone and social media but hadn’t heard back by publication time.

The Middletons are two of thousands of supporters of former President Donald Trump who traveled to the Capitol for the ill-fated “Stop the Steal” rally. And they’re the latest in a string of arrests across North Texas since the riot took place.

While Jalise had been working at Gainesville’s Angels Care Home Health, which provides medical services to seniors and those with disabilities, a company representative told the Observer on Friday that she’s no longer employed there. A call to the corporate office was not returned.

Meanwhile, Mark no longer works with internet company Nortex Communications, said network operations manager Chris McNamara.

McNamara is also the chair of the Cooke County Republican Party, where Mark remains a precinct chair — an elected position. As such, McNamara said there’s “really no procedure to remove [Mark],” although he could choose to resign.

“We were aware that he went up to D.C. in January, but he assured us that he didn’t participate in any of the insurrection activities,” McNamara said. “And of course, the party, and me especially, we don’t condone anything that he’s been accused of.”

Mark had also been an election clerk for two elections over the past year, said Cooke County Clerk Pam Harrison.

A selfie photo included in court documents also appears to show the Middletons with a previous Cooke County election judge on Capitol grounds.

Of course, the Middletons have attracted their fair share of critics, including Cooke County Democratic Chair John Angus. One of the most sacred things in American democracy is the peaceful transfer of power, but that was interrupted when the Capitol was stormed on Jan. 6, Angus said.

It’s upsetting that Mark has been involved in the elections process, Angus added. Having spent two decades in the Navy and 23 years as a lawyer, he said the Capitol insurrection “sticks in [his] craw.”

“This whole thing was about overturning an election by force that was certified by 50 states, many of whom were run by Republicans,” he said. “So I don’t want anybody like that, to be honest, to be anywhere near our election polls. Not at all.”

Melinda Urbina, an FBI Dallas spokeswoman, said 18 people in North Texas proper have been arrested in relation to the Capitol insurrection. Altogether, the Dallas office has arrested 22 in the entire area it covers, which stretches across much of the state's top half.

Some Texas GOP officials were also in DC on Jan. 6. Fredericksburg state Rep. Kyle Biedermann was videoed near the steps of the U.S. Capitol as rioters clashed with police, according to San Antonio’s KSAT. Conservative activist Kevin Whitt lost his field organizer position with the state’s Republican Party after he filmed himself outside the Capitol that day.

Many of the insurrectionists traveled a long distance to attend the Capitol riot, said Heidi Beirich, co-founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism. A sizeable cluster came from around the Dallas area in particular.

The insurrectionists were somewhat unusual in that they're wealthier than hardened extremists, Beirich said. Most extremists typically don’t arrive by way of a private plane, she added, referring to the mode of transport taken by alleged insurrectionist Jenna Ryan.

There’s an irony to the day’s events because many conservatives blame Black Lives Matter protesters for civil disturbances, Beirich said. Yet it was Trump supporters who attacked Capitol police.

Jan. 6 was particularly alarming because of how many “normal” people attended the riot, she added.

“It’s a little bit easier to digest the idea that a bunch of neo-Nazis and anti-government extremists … tried to stop the voting at the Capitol,” Beirich said. “It’s a lot more disconcerting when it’s just somebody who’s your neighbor, someone you wouldn’t expect in a million years to be involved in some kind of activity like this.”

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