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Prosecutors won't proceed with charges against Michigan woman arrested during Capitol insurrection

Riley Beggin
The Detroit News

Prosecutors decided for now not to proceed with charges against Leslie Grimes, one of the six Michigan people arrested during the insurrection at the Capitol on Wednesday, according to a District of Columbia official with knowledge of the situation.

Grimes' father, Robert Grimes, told The Detroit News she was wrongfully arrested near a pro-Trump insurrection, which unfolded from a protest she and her Grand Rapids-area friends attended as counter-protesters. 

Grimes was identified by the police as Logan Grimes when arrested. Grimes is a transgender woman who uses feminine pronouns, according to her father. 

After spending a full day in a Washington, D.C., jail, Grimes headed back to Grand Rapids Friday, her father said. The 54-year-old Cadillac man said his whole family is opposed to the sitting president, and it's been "horrible" to see his daughter's name associated with violent acts committed in President Donald Trump's name.

A worker sweeps up the dust and debris that was left behind by a pro-Trump mob in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol building on January 7, 2021 in Washington, DC. Following a rally yesterday with President Donald Trump on the National Mall, a pro-Trump mob stormed and broke into the U.S. Capitol building causing a Joint Session of Congress to delay the certification of President-elect Joe Biden's victory over President Trump.

Now that she's been released and a new presidential administration is around the corner, the elder Grimes said he's "hoping the poster child for chaos in America can just go somewhere and hopefully a lot of this starts to diffuse. And I'm hoping Leslie gets the chance at breathing room."

Leslie Grimes, 25, was one of six people from Michigan who were arrested by Washington Metropolitan Police Wednesday as a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building, destroying furniture and windows, fighting with police and rifling through offices of some of the nation's most powerful lawmakers. 

The younger Grimes was arrested a few blocks north of the White House, just under two miles from the Capitol building under siege. She was charged with carrying a pistol without a license, carrying unregistered ammunition and carrying a large capacity ammunition feeding device — which Washington, D.C., law describes as a "magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device" that's capable of accepting more than 10 rounds of ammunition. 

But that gun and ammunition didn't belong to Leslie, her father said — in fact, she didn't know it was there until the police discovered it. 

If convicted, Grimes' charges could have put her behind bars for up to nine years or cost her more than $27,000 in fines.

While the charges against her could still be pursued in the future, local law enforcement is facing the enormous task of tracking down the hundreds of rioters who ransacked the U.S. Capitol building, most of whom were allowed to leave without citation. At least 53 people have been charged in federal and Superior Court for charges related to the insurrection, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The other five people from Michigan were charged with breaking Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser's 6 p.m. curfew implemented as the rioting unfolded on the Hill. One was also charged with unlawful entry. 

The group Leslie drove with to Washington had discussed bringing a firearm "as protection," Robert Grimes said, but "one of the individuals misled some people" and didn't tell the others that they had packed a gun in the trunk. 

A Trump supporter near the site of the original protest kicked Leslie in the chest, knocking the wind out of her, Grimes said. Her friends picked her up and they fled in the vehicle, which was pulled over, he said. When police discovered the weapon, Leslie took responsibility for it, the father said 

The friends "got away scot-free," Robert Grimes said. "I raised my daughter to show accountability and be truthful."

He added that she was a "gun hobbyist" as a child but always got the necessary licenses. 

Leslie Grimes could not be reached for an interview Friday evening.

Leslie Grimes works on films and was in the city with her friends to protest against the Trump supporters and document the demonstration, Robert Grimes said. Leslie attends Black Lives Matter protests and is "out there campaigning for what (she) believes in. But (she) didn't destroy any property, didn't cause any problems." 

Thousands of Trump supporters gathered near the White House Wednesday morning to protest Congress' planned confirmation of Electoral College votes for Democratic President-elect Joe Biden. Trump spoke at the rally, repeating unproven claims of widespread election fraud. 

The protest turned violent when hundreds of the president's supporters headed to the Capitol building, tussled with police, overran security barriers and broke windows to enter the building. Lawmakers, staff and journalists were locked down and then evacuated as protesters took over the chambers. A Capitol Police officer died from injuries, while a protester died from gunfire.

Leslie Grimes and her friends have gone "to a number of these events all over America saying, well, 'If they've got a right to scream and yell, we've got a right to say we disagree with you,'" Robert Grimes said. 

"And then the last Facebook post we saw from (her) said (she) was heading to D.C. We were mildly concerned, but we didn't think the president of the United States would launch an insurrection."

Leslie's arrest and release came as a climax to years of disillusionment with the state of American politics for Robert Grimes, who shuttered the comic book shop and non-profit he ran with Leslie due to financial strain related to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said many who came into his shop refused to wear a mask and lashed out at him. 

He said he's dealt with backlash in the northern Michigan town due to the family's political beliefs and, now, for the news reports about Leslie's arrest. For him, it's emblematic of a deep rift that's far from healing. 

"This is wrong. Michigan needs to grow up. America needs to grow up. America was built on diversity. Live with it, deal with it, be a good person."

rbeggin@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @rbeggin