January 6 rioters in their own words
WASHINGTON – Facing jail time, many January 6 rioters admit they were wrong to enter the United States Capitol and disown political violence, despite what former President Donald Trump claims by spreading lies about the attack.
Some directly accuse Trump of misleading them and warn his supporters not to trust him. Others remain rebellious and claim to be victims of the so-called culture of cancellation.
At least 170 rioters pleaded guilty and more than 70 were sentenced. One case was dismissed and two others closed after the death of those charged. No one was found not guilty.
A sample of what they and their lawyers said in court:
“Why did I enter the Capitol? I don’t have a good answer. I’ve seen it thousands of times and still don’t know why I didn’t recognize what was going on and take alternative action. There were certain factors that influenced me that day that cannot be ignored. We were told: “everyone is going to the Capitol” and “be at peace. “”
“The whole experience was surreal. I trusted the president and it was a big mistake.
—Leonard Gruppo, of Clovis, New Mexico, in a letter to the judge condemning him. Gruppo, a retired special forces soldier, was sentenced to three months of house arrest.
“I realized that we, that is to say the supporters of Trump, were lied to by those who had great power at the time, that is to say the incumbent president of the era, as well as those acting on its behalf.
“They kept spitting out the false story of a stolen election and that it was ‘our duty’ to resist tyranny. I was far from realizing that they were the tyrants desperate to hold on to power at all costs, even creating the chaos they knew would come with such rhetoric.
—Robert Palmer, of Largo, Fla., In a handwritten letter. Palmer threw a fire extinguisher and attacked the police. He was sentenced to more than five years in prison.
“False statements were made to media sources, as well as by the president himself, that the electoral system had been corrupted and that the integrity of the election had to be questioned. … Mr. Croy believed what he read on the Internet and heard from the President himself – that the election was stolen. “
– attorney Kira Anne West, writing in a court file for Glenn Wes Lee Croy, of Colorado Springs, Colo., Who was sentenced to three months of house arrest.
“I attended several meadows. The events of Trump without incident. … My intention that day was to support, not to cause trouble. I am deeply saddened by the events that unfolded that day and I deeply regret being forever associated. “
—Dona Sue Bissey, of Bloomfield, Indiana, in a handwritten letter. She was sentenced to 14 days in prison.
“The only plan I had was to go to the White House Ellipse to listen to President Trump’s speech. He said during his speech that he would go to the Capitol after his speech and he asked us to go there together after his speech. I left his speech early to return to my hotel room because I was cold. When I got back to my room, I saw on the news that people were (sic) at the Capitol. … After having come a long way to attend this rally, I decided to put on an extra layer of clothes and walk to the capital.
—Valerie Elaine Ehrke, of Arbuckle, Calif., In letter to court. Ehrke was sentenced to three years’ probation. Trump never went to Capitol Hill that day.
“This country has a long history of an audience seeking to punish those who are perceived to have done wrong in ‘their’ eyes. …. A significant percentage of our population will “overrule” Mr. Hodgkins because of 15 minutes of poor judgment, throwing stones at him, never fully realizing their own indiscretions and hypocrisy. “
– attorney Patrick Leduc, writing in a court file for Paul Allard Hodgkins, of Tampa, Fla., Who violated the Senate by carrying a Trump campaign flag. Hodgkins was sentenced to eight months in prison.
“Although I felt bad about entering the Capitol illegally on January 6, not everything I did that day was not bad. Some actions I took that day were good. came to Washington to protest the election results. I wanted my voice to be heard. My only weapon was my voice and my cell phone.
“It is my belief that America is currently in an ‘information war.’ This so-called ‘war’ that I have spoken of, using my First Amendment rights, is a war that is not carried out with weapons, but with words, ideas, constructions and opinions. “
—Jenna Ryan, from Frisco, TX, in a letter to the court. Ryan was sentenced to 60 days in jail after posting online: “I have blonde hair, white skin, a great job, a great future and I won’t go to jail.” She told NBC News in an interview published this week that she was seen as a scapegoat “like the Jews in Germany.”
“My conservative credo remains the same. However, the system of governance, a constitutional republic, and the processes in place to decide who sits in the Oval Office behind the Resolute Office transcend any candidate or party. This peaceful transfer of power and the method put in place to achieve it deserve to be protected. My message to fellow Conservatives, or to any American who disagrees with the current administration, is that we must continue our work within the confines of the system and condemn the actions of January 6 as atrocious.
—-Devlyn Thompson, of Seattle, in a handwritten letter. Thompson, who pleaded guilty to assaulting a police officer with a baton, was sentenced to nearly four years in prison.
Associated Press writer Michael Kunzelman in College Park, Maryland, contributed to this report.
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