Jorge Riley Likes to Overshare

I have to admit that I find characters like Jorge Riley absolutely fascinating. The former Corresponding Secretary of the California Republican Assembly, and former President of the Sacramento Republican Assembly, Riley says that he is a “French-speaking, Native American Messianic Jewish right-wing conservative Republican.” 

            He is also now a prisoner in federal custody, awaiting trial for his role in the violent January 6th attack on the Capitol building, all of which he richly documented on his Facebook page.

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            Riley really made this easy on his prosecutors.  On the 5th of January, the day before the assault, he posted on Facebook the following message: “Do you really not get what is going to happen on the 6th? I absolutely am looking forward to that and NO MATTER WHAT THERE IS NOTHING THAT CAN STOP IT!!!”  Between the 6th and the 8th of January, he posted, according to the charging documents, “over 150 messages, photographs, and videos on his public Facebook account, detailing his actions on January 6.”

            Those posts show Riley wearing “war paint” and a feather in his long black hair. They show Riley stating in one video that he had “breached” the Capitol building, pushed past police officers, and carried on despite being hit with pepper spray three times. Riley said that “we broke windows. We went into the door.  We pushed our way into Nancy Pelosi’s office. We just kept going further and further . . . and then we were sitting in there, yelling ‘Fuck you Nancy Pelosi.’” 

            It did not take FBI officials much time to track down Riley.  He was arrested a week after the protest at his home in Sacramento.

            Last Wednesday, Riley appeared before a federal judge in Sacramento, who ordered him returned to Washington to face charges, two misdemeanors and a Class B felony.  The judge called Riley “a man of impulse and poor judgment,” which seems like an understatement. Riley’s attorney said that his client was neither a flight risk nor a threat to the community, because the person who summoned him to Washington, Donald Trump, was no longer president and would not be issuing any more orders.  Besides, Riley was a disabled American veteran who used his $600 Covid relief check to book travel to Washington. Now he was broke.  The judge did not buy any of this.

            Riley has said different things about his Native American identity, and Acee Agoyo, the fantastic reporter who writes for, was obviously skeptical about the claims of this “self-proclaimed Native Republican.”  She suggested that his hair was dyed, his identity a fabrication: another nutty Pretendian.  Indeed, one woman who commented on Agoyo’s article identified herself as Riley’s ex-wife. She said he had a long record of violence and drug abuse, a long criminal record, and that “he is NOT Native Amarican [sic] he’s Mexican and White!”

            I am not sure what makes Jorge Riley tick.  I am not in the business of disputing one’s claims to Native American identity, even though I have written about a number of historical figures whose “real” identities” were drawn with very blurred lines. Riley made jokes likening the occupation of the Capitol to taking land back that had been illegally seized.  Maybe he will demonstrate ties to an Indigenous community in California or elsewhere. Maybe he belongs in the same category as the crazy Q-Shaman.  Time will tell. There is some strange stuff going on in the American culture. And historians can cite so many examples of a conjured Native American identity, from Elizabeth Warren to Andrea Smith to Mr. Riley, fulfilling needs material and spiritual.

            By the end of the day, after scuffling with police and leaving Capitol Hill and walking down the mall drinking a beer, Riley’s “fake” war paint had washed off.

4 thoughts on “Jorge Riley Likes to Overshare”

  1. i went to high school with jorge riley in Carmichael, CA. he was a sophmore when i was a freshman. we became acquainted both a frequent volunteers for junior ROTC extracurriculars. he was always a buffoonish, histrionic, wannabe alpha-male type who couldn’t go longer than five seconds without mentioning all the types of martial arts he’d supposedly mastered the inhuman number of pushups he could do, his innumerable sexual conquests and the “fact” he was a native american. despite his comical masculinity LARPing and highly dubious claims to his ethnic identity, he was a funny guy, i got along with him and we remained in touch through e-mail and later on social media after we had both graduated and gone off to join the army.

    he took a dark turn when he got into politics and developed a absolutely venomous attitude towards any group that would show up on a right wing republican shit-list: democrats, socialists, mexicans, liberal jews, etc. but he had a particularly smoldering hatred for gay men, trans women and muslims. he fully embraced christian nationalism, american jingoism, dispensationalism and a “clash of cultures” ideology that pitted christian america and our protectorate israel against a satanic horde of muslim, liberals, homosexuals, etc. i finally cut off contact with him a couple years ago for the endless deluge of hate, violent fantasies and conspiracy theories he’d go on about on social media.

    anyone who knew him was not surprised when any of this happened. he was always an asshole and we’ve watched him become a hydrophobic republican jihadist over a period of decades.

  2. Interesting, I hadn’t noticed this character in the news. Will be curious to see how his identity shakes out, if more does come to light.

    Reminds me a bit of some of the people who came out to defend the Washington football team’s former name.

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