An Arkansas man photographed with his feet on a desk in House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office after joining the mob that stormed the US Capitol in 2021 was sentenced on Wednesday, May 24, to four and a half years in prison.
Richard Barnett, 63, was leaning back in a chair with his boots propped up on a desk in the office of the Democratic politician when he had his picture taken by an AFP photographer. The photo became one of the iconic images of the January 6, 2021 insurrection.
Barnett had joined supporters of then-president Donald Trump who stormed Congress to shut down the legislature as it convened to certify Democrat Joe Biden as the next US president.
A Washington jury convicted Barnett in January on eight counts including obstructing Congress’s certification of the election, illegally entering the Capitol and disorderly conduct with a dangerous weapon – an electric stun device disguised as a walking stick.
Prosecutors had asked Judge Christopher Cooper for a sentence of seven years in prison. In their sentencing memo, prosecutors said Barnett did not show any remorse and had “sought to profit from his notoriety and criminal conduct” by selling “autographed photos of himself in the Speaker’s office suite.”
Barnett’s defense attorney had asked the judge to impose a sentence of 12 months. Barnett, described in court filings as a supporter of the QAnon conspiracy theory alleging a global liberal plot to kidnap children, had defended his actions as an exercise of his constitutional right to protest.
But while in Pelosi’s office he wrote a crude message to her. “I left her a note on her desk that says ‘Nancy, Bigo was here, you bitch,'” he told reporters, using his nickname.
More than 1,000 people have been arrested for taking part in what prosecutors have called an insurrection to keep Trump in the White House after his election loss. Most of them face charges of illegally entering the Capitol or causing property damage, but some 350 have been charged with assaulting law enforcement officers or resisting arrest and more than 50 with serious conspiracy crimes.
Oath Keepers founder to be sentenced
Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the far-right Oath Keepers militia, was found guilty of the rarely used charge of seditious conspiracy in November and is to be sentenced on Thursday. Prosecutors have requested a sentence of 25 years for the 57-year-old Rhodes, a Yale-educated former soldier.
During a nearly two-week trial in Washington, prosecutors said Rhodes and other members of the Oath Keepers “concocted a plan for an armed rebellion…plotting to oppose by force the government of the United States.”
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The Oath Keepers were accused of stocking weapons at a hotel near Washington and joining the crowd that stormed the Capitol in a bid to block the certification by Congress of Biden’s election victory.
Prosecutors showed the jury text messages between Rhodes and his followers that called for action if Trump himself failed to act. Rhodes did not personally enter the Capitol but directed his followers like a battlefield general, prosecutors said.