BOSTON (AP) – For years, Vincent Gillespie waged a legal battle to try to gain control of hundreds of paintings by his father – the famous American post-war artist Gregory Gillespie.
On January 6, 2021, prosecutors say, Gillespie engaged in a very different kind of fight, joining rioters as they tried to snatch the federal government from control of the U.S. capital in one of the most violent confrontations during the riot.
Gillespie, as investigators say, was identified by half a dozen sources from photos taken that day, was among a mob trying to force its way through a tunnel at the Capitol’s lower western terrace – an assault that almost succeeded according to his own description.
“We were almost overpowering them,” Gillespie, who had visible blood on his scalp from the collision, told an Associated Press journalist at the scene that day. “If you had another 15, 20 guys behind us pushing on, I think we could have won it.”
The AP video that caught a red-hot Gillespie that day as he painted around outside the Capitol and defiantly spoke about his role in the attack – and his complaint that several like-minded people did not take part in the fight – reveals both the depth of determination in many of the troublemakers, and the insecurity others felt about what they would do once inside the building.
What is clear, federal investigators said, is that Gillespie was involved in a violent fight against law enforcement officials who tried to prevent rioters from entering the building when a joint session of Congress was engaged in certifying the votes of the Electoral College.
The resident of Athol, Massachusetts, was seen outside the Capitol pouring water into his eyes, apparently to combat the effects of chemical sprays used to try to control the crowd.
Gillespie told the AP on the spot that day that he was among those trying to storm the building. Gillespie said he and others tried to break through an opening.
“I was with some other guys. And then we started pushing them and they hit us and put pepper spray in your eyes. But there were a bunch of people pushing behind us,” Gillespie told the AP.
“What you need to know, and no one is going to listen to this, we were very close.” If more people had stood behind him, he said, “then there’s the second set of doors we just would have had. Break through it.”
What was apparently less clear to Gillespie that day was what he and the others would do with him if they had been able to take control of the Capitol.
“I hope they will flow in so there is nothing they can do. I would hope they would. Take it over. Take it over. Own it for a few days. I’m not an anarchist, but you can not let alone what happened in this election, ”he said, an apparent reference to former President Donald Trump’s allegations of a stolen election.
Although he was quick to offer his name when asked by the AP reporter, Gillespie hesitated before saying where he came from.
“They will come after me, man,” he said, hesitating before adding, “I’m in Massachusetts.”
Gillespie ultimately faced seven criminal charges, including civilian disorder, assault on officers, and disorderly conduct in the Capitol. He has pleaded not guilty.
He is one of more than 775 people arrested in nearly all 50 states and the District of Columbia in connection with the January 6 attack in which the pro-Trump mob tried to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory in 2020. Rebels smashed windows, broke through doors and beat and bled police officers, who were very unprepared for the mob.
Vincent Gillespie is the son of Gregory Gillespie, the artist whose self-portraits, fantasy landscapes and geometric abstractions are included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and other museums.
His paintings are also at the center of a protracted and hitherto unsuccessful legal battle that Gillespie has waged against her stepmother and her lawyers in an attempt to contest control of the paintings. In a 2020 lawsuit, Vincent Gillespie described his father as a famous artist who left more than 400 valuable paintings when he died.
Gillespie’s participation in the events of January 6, 2021, seems well documented, including in photos and videos that helped tipsters identify him, investigators said.
Open source video and security cameras captured several images of Gillespie participating in the riot, according to the Justice Department.
Investigators were tipped off by a former neighbor, the manager of a local hardware store and employees of the town of Athol, where Gillespie attends meetings and pays his tax bills at City Hall. A total of six witnesses identified him independently from photos taken from the riot.
In the chaos during the uprising, Gillespie pushed, shouted and pushed and fought with police, the FBI said. Pictures included in his court papers show him fighting his way through the crowd, eventually maneuvering through the rioters to the ranks of police officers and gaining control of a police shield.
He is seen and heard on body camera by a police officer pushing his way through the crowd, using a police shield to hit officers and shouting “traitor” and “treason” while pointing at a law enforcement officer, officials said.
Following his arrest, Gillespie, 60, was ordered by a judge to stay away from Washington, except for court-related business. He was ordered not to possess a firearm or other weapons.
Gillespie’s next appearance is scheduled for April 29 for U.S. District Attorney Beryl Howell of the District of Columbia.
Contacted by the AP after his arrest, Gillespie declined to comment.
‘My lawyer advised against it. He said that there are only disadvantages to it, “he told the AP. “I want to talk. There are a lot of things out there that are wrong.”
This is not the first time Gillespie has been in court.
Years earlier, Gillespie was making local headlines by contesting a $ 15 parking ticket – despite having to pay $ 250 in filing fees. He ended up fighting the non-refundable application fee all the way to the state Supreme Court in 2011.
He did not receive a refund.