Jorge Riley’s path to U.S. Capitol insurrection started at ARC

ARC alumnus Jorge Riley, released from custody after storming the Capitol, has a history of contempt for election fairness and authority

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Former Associated Student Body Student Senate Director of Finance, Jorge Riley, speaks in the American River College Student Center at the candidate forum during the Spring 2014 ASB elections. (File Photo)

Oden Taylor, Editor-In-Chief

American River College alumnus Jorge Riley’s name has dominated local headlines since he and many other supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the United States Capitol on Jan. 6. Though there were many contributing factors to Riley’s participation, his path to insurrection was foreshadowed at ARC by a history of distrust in the validity of elections and authority figures. 

According to court papers obtained by KCRA 3, Riley was extradited to Washington D.C.; after the federal court considered holding Riley for trial. Instead, he was released from custody on Feb. 24. The court documents state that Riley is not allowed to move or travel out of the country, and he will have a court appearance in late April.

According to Scott Crow, ARC public information officer, Riley’s behavior at the Capitol left the Los Rios Community College District mortified. 

“All of us in Los Rios watched with great shock, horror, and sadness as hatred and division in our country spilled over into riots in the sacred chambers of our nation’s Capitol on January 6,”  Crow said in an email to the Current. “This display of violence and anger struck at the heart of democracy everywhere and underscored just how divided our country is.”

Crow added that any involvement in the Capitol riots is antithetical to the deeply held values of the LRCCD.

“It is extremely regrettable and disappointing if a former Los Rios student was somehow involved in the appalling events at the U.S. Capitol,” Crow said. 

Riley’s recent behavior and actions may come as no surprise to some, given his past history and association with ARC.

Jorge Riley supported a 2008 student government resolution endorsing Proposition 8, which sought to keep gay marriage illegal in California. (File Photo)

Riley spent much of his time at ARC as a member of the Associated Student Body. According to previous reporting conducted by the Current, his time on ASB was tumultuous, with many in strong opposition to his conservative views, specifically regarding his support of a 2008 student government resolution endorsing Proposition 8, which sought to keep gay marriage illegal in California.  

Despite this, by popular vote, Riley was appointed to ASB Student Senate director of finance in the spring of 2013 and interim ASB Student Senate president during fall of 2013. According to previous reporting done by the Current, during his time as Student Senate president, Riley was “handcuffed and ticketed for reportedly being intoxicated on campus” on Nov. 6, 2013.

After covering the alleged events, the Current published and distributed its latest issue with Riley on the front cover. That same day the Current staff was alerted by an anonymous source that Riley had been seen illegally dumping the papers in the garbage can, according to previous reporting done by the Current.

Dozens of copies of “The Current” sit in a trashcan at American River College, after Associated Student Body representative Jorge Riley threw them away in November 2013. (File Photo)

“The newspaper staff was informed…that Riley was seen gathering copies of the paper by the Starbucks lounge areas in the student center and putting them in the trash,” according to an article by Melissa Hurtado, a former Current staff writer. “The papers that were thrown away showcase Riley as the lead story.” 

At the time, Riley responded to the Current with a Letter-to-the-Editor, an excerpt of which can be found below: 

“They said I was being lippy so they cuffed me and told me I was ‘UNDER ARREST FOR PUBLIC INTOXICATION’, I was not read my rights but instead of going right to the station as we were in the front of the school, they went on a long detour to parade me through school,” Riley’s letter read. “I told them I had been denied legal counsel and was asking them why they took me in a room to violate my rights. Is it that I was doing something wrong or is it that I was trying to get things done?” 

Because of Riley’s conduct during this event as well as allegations that he’d printed campaign signs in the library without permission, Pam Walker, former interim president of the LRCCD’s chancellor’s office, recommended that Riley’s election be invalidated and overturned, according to previous reporting done by the Current.  

Riley has said in several interviews with the Current that he was not intoxicated on campus and had received permission to print his campaign signs. He also said he felt he was not given a reason for his election invalidation.

“I just got kicked and slapped and was given no real reason except that they didn’t like the outcome of the election,” Riley said to the Current in August 2014. “I won by a 25% margin. The administration wants a vote on the student government and then they wonder why students don’t vote. If it’s not going to count, why should they?”

A Jorge Riley campaign sign was defaced at the intersection of College Oak and Orange Grove in Sacramento, California, outside of American River College in September 2014. (File Photo)

Following the invalidation, Riley was given a second chance, or “rematch”, to campaign for Student Senate president. Prior to the election, one of Riley’s campaign signs was defaced with the words “homophobe”, “supported Prop 8” and “embarrassed student govt.”, according to reporting done by the Current in September 2014.

Riley ended up losing the rematch to his opponent Tamara Dunning by one vote, 76-77 respectively. Following the election, in an interview with the Current, Riley said he wanted to draft a petition for people to attest that they voted for him after claiming election fraud. 

“I think they rigged the election, the only way they could beat me was to rig it so the numbers would be low,” Riley told the Current in 2014. “[Dunning] is their puppet. She’ll do whatever they want.”

At this time, Riley said he felt the administration had been harassing him for two years and had prevented him from achieving his goals as president. 

“I’m a student representative, not an administration representative,” Riley said. “All the student body wants me to be president.” 

What followed more than seven years later, would shock the nation to its core. According to reporting done by KCRA 3 on Feb. 12, Riley shared a series of photos and videos of himself participating in the Capitol riot on social media that have since been removed from his accounts, as well as a since-deleted Jan. 8 post that read, “You will all die,” according to the article.

Former American River College student, Jorge Riley, was arrested after admitting on video that he was involved in the Jan. 6, 2021, storming of the U.S. Capitol. (Photo courtesy of CBS)

“As the photos continue, Riley is seen with the group storming the Capitol building,” according to KCRA 3. “The account also shared photos of broken windows inside the Capitol hallways and outside Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office.”

Following the riot, Riley was arrested on Jan. 19, about a week after he was forced to resign from his positions as the corresponding secretary of the California Republican Assembly and president of the Sacramento Republican Assembly. 

Riley has been accused, by the federal court, of “breaking into the Capitol and interrupting Congress”. According to the federal government’s filing, Riley is already on trial for child abuse.

The Current will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.