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Brief # 18 – Social Justice

Update on Prosecution of Capitol Rioters 

By Erika Shannon

June 28, 2021

While it has been nearly six months since a group of right-wing extremists stormed the Capitol Building, we are still seeing late arrests being made, as well as justice finally being served as the first sentence has been given out in connection with the Capitol Riots. On January 6th, we saw several hundred people storm the Capitol Building in an effort to “Stop the Steal” of the 2020 election. Right-wing extremist groups felt that President Biden somehow stole the victory from Donald Trump, even though according to the Department of Justice, there was no interference. It is estimated that over 500 people have been charged with crimes related to the January 6th riots, with more to come. 

Although the Capitol Riots happened several months ago, we are still seeing people being arrested in connection with them to this day. Just last Thursday, a central Illinois man was arrested and charged with assault on a law enforcement officer, assault in special maritime and territorial jurisdiction, and engaging in violence in a restricted building or grounds; it is alleged that he tripped an officer, subsequently pushing him to the ground, then breached a media staging area and tackled a cameraman. The reason for arrests continuing to be made to this day has to do with the fact that many inciters and participants in the Capitol Riots were not arrested on that day. In fact, most were able to get on planes and fly home, resuming life until video or photographic evidence surfaced that could identify them as attendees at the riots. 

As far as the 500+ people that have been charged in connection with the events on January 6th, the Department of Justice has published a list of those charged. It also includes their charges, case status, and other relevant information. The cases are being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. Some of those charged remain in jail, such as Proud Boys leader Charles Donohoe, while many are free and awaiting pending court dates for their cases. The charges against those who have been caught range from assaulting law enforcement officers to trespassing and destroying property. There is also a conspiracy case pending against 16 people with alleged ties to the Oath Keepers; it is alleged that the defendants agreed to plan and take part in an operation to interfere with the certification of Electoral College votes. This was done by coordinating in advance with others via social media and other websites in an attempt to recruit participants to travel to Washington D.C. with weapons and other paramilitary gear. On June 23rd, Oath Keeper member Graydon Young plead guilty to conspiracy and other charges related to the January 6th riots; he has agreed to help prosecutors in bringing charges against other members. He will eventually testify before a grand jury. 

A 49-year-old woman from Indiana was the first person to be officially sentenced in the Capitol breech. The woman, Anna Morgan-Lloyd, was linked to the riots due to her sharing of photos and videos on social media. In court, she expressed remorse and alleged that she did not know it was going to turn violent or else she would not have gone. Morgan-Lloyd plead guilty, and was sentenced to no prison time for her light involvement; she received three years of probation instead, which will likely set a precedent for sentences for other rioters who attended but were only charged with minor crimes. Morgan-Lloyd also must pay restitution of $500 to help offset her part in the $1.5 million worth of damage carried out at the Capitol during the January 6th riots. 

While it seems that many of those involved with the Capitol Riots have already been charged, the Justice Department is still looking for more than 250 people involved in assaulting law enforcement and other acts of violence. It is estimated that someone has been arrested or charged in the connection with the attacks everyday since they occurred, and there is still more work to do. The FBI is sorting through hundreds of thousands of tips received online in regards to the investigations. It is thought that many of those involved will not face any actual jail time; however, those involved in violent crimes against law enforcement or those facing conspiracy charges are more likely to receive a significant jail sentence. There is hope that those involved will learn the lesson that violence is not always the answer, and in the future lives can be saved when protests remain peaceful.

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