WASHINGTON (AP) – A federal judge dismissed prosecutors’ recommendation and on Friday condemned a rioter of the 6th protests following the murder of George Floyd.
U.S. District Court judge Trevor McFadden asked why federal prosecutors had stopped filing cases against the defendants during the 2020 summer protests and read statistics on unrest in the capital that were not prosecuted.
“I think the US attorney would have more credibility if he were impartial in his concerns about riots and mobs in this city,” McFadden said during the conviction of Danielle Doyle for leaving Capitol with a bunch of other rioters on January 6th had entered. Prosecutors recommended that Oklahoma-born Doyle be kept under house arrest for two months.
The testimony of McFadden, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, was a huge departure from the other federal judges who have so far overseen riot cases, even though other Trump officials had assigned hundreds of cases to the court. They have generally spoken about the gravity of the crime and its unique place in American history – unlike other violent free speech protests in an attempt to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power.
Analyzing more than 300 criminal cases stemming from the protests sparked by Floyd’s assassination, the Associated Press showed that many left-wing rioters had received substantial sentences and refuted the argument that pro-Trump defendants were treated harsher than protesters by Black Lives Matter.
When McFadden sentenced Doyle, he said he believed she was acting “like all those looters and rioters last year. That’s because looters and rioters decided the law didn’t apply to them. “
Despite these concerns, McFadden said Doyle’s behavior was not excusable. He called it a “national embarrassment” and compared it again to protests against police brutality after the death of George Floyd last year, which “made us all feel less safe”.
In contrast, US District Judge James Boasberg sentenced another rioter, Andrew Ryan Bennett, to three months of house arrest on Friday, thereby accepting the prosecution’s motion. Bennett was accused of advocating conspiracy theories about the election and used “combative rhetoric” to post about his plans to be in Washington. The mob attacked and beat overextended police on January 6, sending lawmakers for their lives and causing more than $ 1 million in damage to the building.
“I cannot stress enough, as I said earlier, that the cornerstone of our democratic republic is the peaceful transfer of power after an election,” the judge told Bennett. “And what you and others did on January 6th was nothing less than an attempt to undermine that system of government.”
Earlier this week, Boasberg, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, sentenced Derek Jancart and Erik Rau, friends from Ohio, to 45 days in prison.
All three men had pleaded guilty to the offense, which could be punished with a maximum prison sentence of six months. Like Jancart and Rau, Bennett has not been accused of personally engaging in violence or property destruction.
Bennett said he wasn’t thinking clearly and was “pumped for adrenaline” when he joined the mob that stormed the Capitol after driving to Washington from his Columbia, Maryland home that morning.
“What I did was wrong and I hold myself responsible for my actions that day,” he said.
Doyle was also not accused of mob violence. She climbed through a broken window and spent 24 minutes in the building. She told the judge that she had no intention of harming anyone and that it was regrettable that a peaceful rally changed when people broke into the building.
“I love this country,” she said. “So many people came here to represent things that were important to us, but in no time all of those things were overshadowed,” she said. “I’m sorry for that because it overshadowed the things that were good.”
Meanwhile, a retired US Special Forces soldier and former Florida Congressional candidate has been arrested for his role in the uprising. Jeremy Brown has been charged with a misdemeanor of trespassing. FBI officers obtained photos of Brown in tactical gear in the Capitol from an acquaintance of Brown, and a rioter who pleaded guilty also confirmed to agents that Brown was there, according to court records. He said federal officials called him and tried to get him to tell about others.
Brown ran as a Republican candidate for Congress in the 14th District, which includes Tampa and the surrounding area, in 2020, but was eliminated from the race in March 2020.
Kunzelman reported from College Park, Md.