This article was updated with new information on Jan. 11.
A U.S. Army Captain who lives in Moore County is at the center of an Army investigation into her participation in events surrounding last week’s protests and violent riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Emily Grace Rainey, who is known locally for protesting coronavirus restrictions and for her involvement with an anti-mask organization, helped lead a group of about 100 people from Moore County to Washington, D.C, on Jan. 6.
“'I was a private citizen and doing everything right and within my rights,” she said in an interview with The Associated Press on Sunday. The Pilot was unable to reach Rainey for additional comment.
Rainey, 30, is attached to 4th Psychological Operations Group at Fort Bragg, according to Maj. Daniel Lessard, a spokesman for 1st Special Forces Command.
“Our command is aware of Capt. Emily Rainey’s presence at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and is currently investigating to determine the facts as to her exact involvement,” Lessard said in a statement to The Pilot. “It is unclear if she violated any laws or regulations, as the (Department of Defense) encourages members of the Armed Forces to carry out the obligation of citizenship, so long as their actions are in keeping with DoD policy and do not impair the good order and discipline of the service.”
The investigation, Lessard said, will determine whether “further actions by the command are warranted,” though he did not elaborate on what actions might be taken.
“It would be inappropriate for me to speculate on the potential administrative or disciplinary actions that our command could take, as the investigation could determine such a wide range of findings,” he said.
Lessard said Rainey resigned her commission in October. Rainey had been approved for a “separation date” in April, meaning she was still considered to be on active duty when she led protestors to Washington. She was seen in Army fatigues as recently as last month, when she spoke at a Moore County Board of Education meeting.
Psychological Operations Groups "use information and misinformation to shape the emotions, decision-making and actions of American adversaries,” according to The Military Times. The group’s Latin motto, “Verbum Vincent,” means “words conquer” in English.
A Heart ‘Bursting With Pride’
Rainey told The Associated Press that she informed her “bosses” of her trip to Washington and notified them after she returned. Lessard said there is “no indication” that other members of the 1st Special Forces Command traveled to the Capitol with Rainey.
Pauline Bruno, president of the Moore Republican Women, said Rainey attended the rally in Washington with a contingent of about 100 people on buses rented by Bruno's group. She described Rainey as “the most wonderful woman,” who helped with the “overwhelming” task of shepherding the group — most of whom were in their 60s and 70s — through the crowds who turned out to support President Donald Trump and protest Congress certifying Joe Biden as winner of the presidential election.
“We went to Washington, D.C to support our president, whom we love, and to support our country. It was a wonderful, beautiful day. We sang, everyone simultaneously. We prayed, we talked to everyone from all over the United States and it was the most inspiring day,” Bruno said in a phone interview with The Pilot. “I walked from the Jefferson Memorial right down to the Capitol, my heart was bursting with pride that I was an American and I could stand up for my beliefs.”
Bruno said Rainey was responsible for the travelers’ safety. She divided the cohort into five smaller groups with designated leaders and advised them on areas to avoid should they become separated.
The trip was well-subscribed by Moore County residents. Bruno said that seats on both buses chartered by the Republican Women’s group sold out within hours. None of the group’s members were among the rioters that breached the Capitol early that afternoon, she said.
“As soon as we got the word that the mayor put a curfew out, we all headed back to the buses. I don’t know what happened up there, but it was not our people,” Bruno said. “We did nothing wrong. Moore County should be proud of the people that went to Washington, D.C.”
So far, about 100 people have been arrested on charges ranging from misdemeanor curfew violations to felonies related to assaults on police officers, possessing illegal weapons and making death threats against Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. At least five deaths are linked to the breach.
‘This is For You’
Rainey was charged in May with injury to personal property after she tore off tape that had been used to cordon off a playground in downtown Southern Pines. Gov. Roy Cooper had closed public parks across the state at the time in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Rainey, who had received previous warnings from the Southern Pines Police Department, posted an 80-second video of herself on Facebook tearing down the tape and talking about it.
“Everyone here, all you freedom fighters, this is for you,” she said.
Lessard said the 1st Special Forces Command “took appropriate administrative action” against Rainey shortly after that incident. He said he could not provide information to The Pilot about what action was taken.
The incident and video helped bring attention to Moore County Citizens for Freedom, the then-nascent organization founded by Rainey. While the organization describes itself online as a nonpartisan network promoting conservative values, it has been most vocal about its opposition to coronavirus restrictions and orders to wear face coverings.
‘We’re Not Shutting Up’
On Dec. 30, Rainey posted a video to Facebook in which she said that Citizens for Freedom and Moore County Republicans were sponsoring buses for the trip to Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6. In the video, she is wearing what she said was a Christmas present: a ball cap that read “Lions Not Sheep.”
“If you would like to sponsor a rider to go to Washington, D.C. to stand for election integrity, on Jan. 6, which our president asked us to be there, then please let the GOP know so we can get folks signed up,” she says. “I’ll lead this trip, so, um, I’ll be there and will be helping to coordinate on the day.”
Rainey told The Associated Press that her group and most people who traveled to Washington "are peace-loving, law-abiding people who were doing nothing but demonstrating our First Amendment rights."
In an all-capitals comment shared on her personal Facebook page two days after the Capitol riot, Rainey wrote “EVERYONE STAY CALM,” followed by four American flag emojis. She attached a seven-minute video.
“Everyone calm down,” she says, speaking directly into a camera. “It is ok to be upset but this was never about Trump. This was never about one man getting elected for another four years. This was always about our American values. This was always about we the people.”
She says further: “We aren’t going anywhere. We’re not shutting up. Until you’re ready to put everything on the line, just like our founding fathers did, then you’re not serious about this.
“And what is happening in our country will continue to happen. Do not be afraid. Do not fear Josh Stein and his witch hunt. My name is on there three times. Not afraid. It’s darkest before the dawn.”
Stein is North Carolina’s Attorney General. In a tweet last Friday, he urged the public to come forward with any information leading to the identities of North Carolinians who were part of the mob that stormed the Capitol.
Later in the video, Rainey said she was leaving Facebook and giving up her iPhone in favor of an LG flip phone.
“The technocracy is out of control and we are going to do something about it,” she says. “They’re going to try to silence 80 million people and they hate you. They hate you. They hate you with all the same hatred of every genocide that has ever happened.
“So get off the bench. This is not an extracurricular activity. This is an existential activity. You need to start fighting. Everyone has talents. Everyone has resources. Everyone needs to be putting all of it, not some of it, not attending something on a Saturday, no. You don’t have time for vacations. I’m sorry. That time has passed. Our Founding Fathers didn’t take vacations. They were fighting for our freedoms. They were framing our Constitution.”
She then urges people to run for public office, saying, “There’s a ton of town councils out there. We have county commissioners. We have school board.
“There are seats here and you have a network. You have a network of people that will support you, that will make your campaign successful,” she says. “It’s time to make it untenable for progressive elected officials to become elected in this county. Moore County stands for American values, not Communist values. So let’s keep it that way. Our county is a stronghold.”
The video concludes with Rainey saying, “You just have to be ready to give it all you got. It’s worth it. Our country’s worth it. Our values are worth it. Love you guys.”