In a wide-ranging interview Thursday with The Durango Herald, Clive Kincaid recounted his life story and the role he played in the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riots.
In explaining his life story, he said it is important for understanding how he ended up at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Kincaid, 75, was charged this month for his role at the U.S. Capitol.
He called his parents extremists on “both sides” and said he no longer has “one iota of faith in this country.”
“My father was a Marxist, an out-and-out communist,” Kincaid said. “My mother was from Germany. She grew up in Germany before and during World War II; she was a Nazi, I guess, is the only way to put it.”
Kincaid said by the time he was a teenager and ready to enter college, he was fed up with radicalized views after hearing so many of them at the kitchen table.
“I realized that I couldn't handle extremism on the left or the right. It was all so ugly if you stop and really think about it,” Kincaid said.
Kincaid was 14 years old when John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
“Our then next president was interested in starting a war in Vietnam,” he said.
He compared President Lyndon B. Johnson’s involvement with Vietnam to that of President Joe Biden’s involvement in Ukraine.
By the time Kincaid was old enough to serve in the military, he received a “very low” draft number of 28.
“I knew I was going to get picked up real quick,” he said.
He said his father encouraged him to go to Vietnam to learn about all the weapons so he could “take out your captains. You take out these guys that are leading this thing.”
Kincaid went to Canada for a while and eventually went to Europe for 18 months during the war, he said.
He eventually returned to the United States. While staying with his mother, two FBI agents showed up and said he had 30 days to get tested to join the Army or face jail.
“I didn't want to do either one of those,” he said. “I’ve always been pretty much my own person.”
He went to a psychiatrist and came up with the idea of claiming he was gay.
“I used that,” he said. “ … I was given a pass, if you will, as not sufficient to join the Army.”
Soon after that, Kincaid said he met his wife, Lynn, who he has been married to for 52 years.
He graduated from the University of California with a degree in anthropology and went to work in Arizona with the Bureau of Land Management. He said the work involved identifying “unique landscapes that are worthwhile of protecting.”
In 1980, after about five years with the BLM, he said he was asked by the Wilderness Society and the Sierra Club in Washington, D.C., to work in the Four Corners to review why certain areas were being ignored for wilderness protections.
He identified areas in southern Utah that he felt were worthy of wilderness protections, but said those areas were being deliberately removed from protections. “It was an outrage,” he said.
He said his fight against the Vietnam War became a fight against U.S. senators and congressmen – “I was fighting against people who were doing the wrong thing.”
Kincaid said he produced a 200-page description about the problems in Utah and gave it to the Wilderness Society and the Sierra Club.
He described taking on an activist role, putting fliers on cars and doing anything he could to raise awareness about why certain areas needed to be protected. He met with a senator about his efforts to preserve the area, but ultimately described him as “the devil himself.”
“I've never met anybody who looks so scary in my life,” Kincaid said.
The Wilderness Society and Sierra Club asked him to attend a congressional hearing in Washington and present his findings about why certain areas in Utah were worthy of wilderness protections.
“I was interrogated for five hours total,” he said. “I gave them everything I had. I told the truth about everything that I saw.”
He started a company working with Indigenous people in Central America, but quit about five years ago.
Kincaid said he was a dedicated Democrat for many decades. He recalled voting for Republicans one or two times, but never for the presidency.
He even flew to Florida in 2000 to help the Democratic Party any way he could with the recount that was going on between Al Gore and George W. Bush.
But his political views began to shift about a decade ago.
According to Colorado voting records, he switched his party affiliation from Democratic to unaffiliated in October 2013.
He said he voted for Barack Obama the first time, but not the second time. He said he voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020. But according to voting records, he did not cast a ballot in the November 2020 election.
“I said there's something amiss here in our nation,” he said. “There are extremities that are hard to swallow. There are things going on that are not right. Times have changed extraordinarily, at least for someone of my age.”
He again mentioned Kennedy’s assassination, other deaths involving the Kennedy family and the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“It became fairly apparent that there is an underside of the country,” Kincaid said. “There's an underside of people who have their own vision and their interest in their own control of what they think they can get away with.”
Kincaid said Trump could be “ugly,” “say nasty things” and be “impolite,” but hit the nail on the head on things like closing the United States-Mexico border and bringing American companies back from China.
In September 2022, after the Capitol riots, he switched his party affiliation to Republican. He remains an active, registered Republican today. He said he would vote again for Trump given the chance.
He accused the U.S. Department of Justice of protecting Hunter Biden, whom Kincaid called a “sick man.”
Kincaid lives in a remote house on 35 acres at 9,600 feet in elevation north of Pagosa Springs.
“It’s my gem home; it’s where I want to die,” he said.
But he spends the winters in Pittsburgh, “because winter is so extreme here.”
That is where he was in January 2021. It was an easy trip to Washington, D.C. He wanted to see the monuments and where he had testified 30 years ago.
He described the city as docile the night before Jan. 6. But by morning, the streets were clogged and parking spaces were filled.
“People were walking up and down the streets, swinging their flags left and right,” Kincaid said. “Everybody was chatting and laughing and talking and having a really grand old time.”
He walked 2½ miles along Constitution Avenue for the Trump speech. After 30 or 40 minutes, he grew tired of that and decided to walk to the Capitol.
“I realized lots of people were walking in the streets,” he said. “People had decided to go to the Capitol and not hang out necessarily at the mall.”
He described seeing the “enormous” scaffolding that had been set up for the upcoming inauguration for Biden. At the bottom of a stairway, he saw a few people standing on a balustrade in an effort to get on top and walk to the front of the Capitol.
“I said, ‘What the heck are you guys doing up there anyway?’ And they said, ‘Well, we're trying to get up to the Capitol, but they won't let us go,’” he said. “And I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ They just go, ‘Well, there's police up there at the top of the steps.’”
The people on the balustrade gave him a hand up.
“All of a sudden I'm standing on top of the balustrade,” he said.
Others on the balustrade warned him that a woman was shooting people with rubber bullets, so every now and then they had to duck.
“I took six bullets, six rubber bullets, and one of them hit the bone above my right eye,” he said.
“I don't think you could imagine what went through my mind. I saw that as an outrage. I said ‘What?’ to myself. We have police standing nearby shooting American citizens? No way. Can't be.”
Kincaid said he moved through a mob gathered on the stairs to speak with police.
“I said, ‘This is terrible. What just happened and just happened to me is terrible,’” he said. “I said, ‘You don't go about shooting people that could be your son, your uncle, your grocery man, your delivery man, your postal man. You can't be shooting at people. This is insane.’ I said ‘These people just want to walk up the steps and around to the front of the Capitol.’”
Kincaide said one of the police officers sprayed mace in his eyes. He said it was a painful experience, but he kept making his way up the steps and his eyes kept getting better.
He arrived at the entrance, where about a dozen people were gathered.
“All of a sudden, the doors open up. The doors open up wide. It’s full police inside, and the police simply stand to the right against the wall,” he said. “I said OK, I want to get to the bottom of this. I want to see what in the heck is going on.”
Kincaid followed about 10 other people into the building past the police officers. The beauty of the Capitol diverted his attention.
“Every young person should have the opportunity to walk through the rotunda and be able to say, ‘This is my country.’ Absolutely one of the most beautiful buildings ever built,” he said.
One of the people he followed into the building then began knocking over stanchions.
“I scream at him,” Kincaid recalled. “I said, ‘Hey you kid, stop that.’ And I ran over to him quick and I grabbed his arm and I said, ‘Don't you dare. Don't you dare knock over this. You pick these up. This is your Capitol building. This is yours.’”
Kincaid said his efforts to de-escalate the situation failed. He saw the situation deteriorating and decided to “give up” and go home. He walked back to his hotel and drove back to Pittsburgh, arriving home about 4 a.m.
“I was tired, I was exhausted, and I was truly devastated by what happened,” he said.
In the months after the riot, Kincaid said he spent four months in Costa Rica looking for property. On a trip back to the United States in August 2022, he was stopped by FBI agents at Denver International Airport.
They questioned him about his involvement at the Capitol on Jan. 6, but then let him go. Kincaid decided to hire an attorney, but nothing more seemed to come of the inquiry.
Then on Aug. 17, a criminal complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court in D.C.
Kincaid said he’s never been charged with a crime, and he’s not sure how the case will play out.
“If they throw me in the clink, whether it's for six months or 10 years – I hope they'll let me have books,” he said.
In retrospect, he wishes a U.S. senator or House representative would have come out on Jan. 6 to speak with the mob in an attempt to calm things down. He called it a “travesty” that leaders don’t speak to the people.
“I should not have been, perhaps, so naive to think I could enter the rotunda and convince somebody to send someone out to talk to the people, because that's what needed to be done,” he said.