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Michigan gubernatorial candidate pleads not guilty to involvement in Jan. 6 riots

Ryan Kelley, a Republican candidate for governor in Michigan, pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges stemming from his alleged involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021, riots at the U.S. Capitol. File Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/38e660e58a9c32578c9fa34efefbb462/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Ryan Kelley, a Republican candidate for governor in Michigan, pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges stemming from his alleged involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021, riots at the U.S. Capitol. File Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

July 7 (UPI) -- Michigan Republican gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley pleaded not guilty Thursday to four misdemeanor charges related to his participation in the Jan. 6, 2021, riots at the U.S. Capitol.

Kelley was arrested by the FBI last month after the agency said he was allegedly among the crowd of rioters on the Capitol grounds for 2 hours, but had no evidence that he entered the Capitol building.

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He pleaded not guilty to charges of knowingly entering a restricted area without lawful authority, disorderly conduct, knowingly engaging in physical violence in a restricted area and willfully injuring or committing depredation against federal government property.

Federal investigators said that Kelley climbed up the scaffolding for President Joe Biden's inauguration stage during the riots and motioned for rioters to move forward.

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He also allegedly filmed crowds attacking police officers.

In the weeks following the riots, the FBI also received several tips identifying Kelly in photos taken on Jan. 6.

During a Republican candidates debate on Wednesday night Kelley confirmed that he was in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, but said that he and other rioters were exercising their First Amendment rights.

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"That was a First Amendment activity by a majority of those people -- myself included -- we were there protesting the government because we don't like the results of the 2020 election, the process of how it happened. And we have that First Amendment right. And that's what 99% of the people were there for that day. And yes I support President [Donald] Trump," he said.

Kelley, who is seeking to challenge incumbent Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer this fall, also said he believes the 2020 presidential election in Michigan, where Biden defeated Trump by more than 154,000 votes, was stolen.

"Yes, the 2020 election in the state of Michigan was fraudulent and it was stolen from President Trump," he said.

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Ex-White House aide testifies at sixth public hearing on Jan. 6 Capitol attack

Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, is sworn in to testify as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds a hearing on June 28, 2022. Pool Photo by Andrew Harnik/UPI | License Photo

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