Sixty-nine-year-old Joseph Bolanos, who has been a part of the block association of his Upper West Side Manhattan neighborhood for the past 23 years, has been investigated and even raided by the FBI simply for being at the US Capitol on Jan. 6 2021. He did not enter the building.
Said Bolanos, "It’s destroyed my reputation. I’m not a violent invader … I do not condone the criminality and violence on [Jan. 6 2021] whatsoever."
According to the NY Post, the FBI claim they received an anonymous tip from someone who claimed to be a neighbor of Bolanos. The caller said that they overheard him telling someone he had been at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and was "boasting" about it.
An FBI agent called Bolanos to follow up, but he missed the call, and called back the next day. The FBI didn't try to get in touch with him by phone again.
Then, four agents surprised him with an appearance and interviewed him on Feb. 4, the interview lasting approximately 25 minutes. They asked about his possible affiliation with extremist groups, to which he answered "no".
Bolanos told the media that he was indeed at the Capitol on Jan. 6 with friends but he left early, and was not there when the riots started. They went back around 2:45pm to the back of the Capitol where there was no evidence of any of the violence that was ensuing inside.
"There was no hint of violence … If you were shooting a movie at that location, you would never know anything had happened," commented Bolanos, who said they took some more photos and left peacefully.
FBI said they would get back to him by phone, but instead, on Feb. 11 2021, Bolanos opened the door to his mother's apartment in the Washington Heights neighborhood to 10 people in riot gear, equipped with a search warrant, a battering ram and a crowbar.
That day, agents would completely ransack both his mother's apartment and his own residence. They took Bolanos out in handcuffs and interrogated him for hours in front of his mother's neighbors.
The events led Bolanos to have a stroke due to high blood pressure after being admitted to Mt. Sinai hospital around 11:00am that day.
Bolanos, over the course of his 23-year stint with the block association, has dropped off masks and even heaters during the pandemic. One time, he even foiled a mugging in his neighborhood and received a formal commendation from the NYPD for his bravery.
As of the the time of publication, Bolanos has not been charged with any crime, but he claims the events have made his neighbors turn on him, with one woman who used to be his friend telling him "I hope Antifa gets you."