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Son Of Prominent Conservative Activist Charged In Capitol Riot

Federal prosecutors allege Leo Brent Bozell IV took part in the rioting at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. The government says it identified him through his blue sweatshirt, which featured the logo for a small Christian school in Pennsylvania that witnesses say his children attended.
Federal prosecutors allege Leo Brent Bozell IV took part in the rioting at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. The government says it identified him through his blue sweatshirt, which featured the logo for a small Christian school in Pennsylvania that witnesses say his children attended.

Leo Brent Bozell IV, the son of a prominent conservative activist and media critic, has been charged for his alleged involvement in the Capitol insurrection.

In an affidavit filed in the case, which remained under seal until Tuesday, an FBI special agent stated that Bozell can be seen in footage inside the Capitol during the rioting on Jan. 6, including for a period of time on the floor of the U.S. Senate. At one point, Bozell allegedly went to the Senate gallery and "moved a camera so that the camera was pointing down to the ground of the balcony area. This was done as protestors began to enter the main floor of the U.S. Senate. By pointing the camera to the ground, the camera was unable to record protestors entering the main floor of the U.S. Senate Chamber."

Bozell, 41, is facing charges of disorderly conduct, knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds, and obstructing an official proceeding. NPR was unable to reach Bozell by phone, and the court records do not yet include information regarding any attorney for Bozell.

His father, Leo Brent Bozell III, is the founder and president of the nonprofit Media Research Center, which describes its mission as working "to expose and neutralize the propaganda arm of the Left: the national news media." The organization runs the NewsBusters website, which frequently accuses mainstream media organizations — including NPR — of liberal bias.

On the day of the Capitol insurrection, the elder Bozell said on Fox Business that he condemned the violence but said, "This is an explosion of pent-up outrage from middle America."

"They are furious that they believe this election was stolen," he added. "I agree with them."

The government's case against the younger Bozell began after the FBI received tips from three individuals. Those tipsters identified Bozell from videos of rioters inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, in part because of the blue sweatshirt Bozell was apparently wearing, which included the logo for Hershey Christian Academy, a private school in Pennsylvania. The school describes itself as "a small, Christ-centered school" and teaches pre-K through 10th grade, according to its website.

One witness allegedly told the FBI that Bozell has children who attended the school. Witnesses said he goes by the nickname "Zeeker."

In January, before Bozell was officially identified, the school said on Facebook, "please understand that the person depicted in the photographs is not a board member, employee, or representative of Hershey Christian Academy."

Following the charges against Bozell, the school referred NPR to another statement from January that says it "do[es] not condone" the behavior seen in footage from Jan. 6, which it described as "unacceptable."

The school's statement also said it had received threats that, at one point, forced it to close its doors. "Parents and teachers unfortunately have been forced to endure many terrorizing and threatening emails and harassing calls which have brought fear into our community and caused many parents to opt for virtual learning rather than in-person learning," the school stated.

NPR also contacted the Media Research Center for comment. The organization referred NPR to an outside public relations firm called Creative Response Concepts, which did not respond.

The elder Bozell has continued to criticize media coverage of the Capitol riot, including tweeting a blog post released the same day the charges against his son were unsealed.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: February 19, 2021 at 12:00 AM EST
An earlier version of this story, relying on court documents, noted that a witness informed the FBI that Bozell was a girls' basketball coach at the Hershey Christian Academy. After publication, the school stated that this information was incorrect, and Bozell has never been a coach at the school.