Here’s why one judge who oversees Jan. 6 cases is afraid for American democracy

A federal judge in Washington, DC, issued a warning about the risk of future political violence and the dangers of ongoing disinformation and denial. Capital attack on January 6.

During a sentencing hearing for 21-year-old Aidan Billard, a North Carolina man who admitted to deploying bear spray against police during a Jan. 6 riot — and smashing a Capitol window with a metal bat — Judge Reggie Walton said America is in a “terrible moment” in which democracy is at risk.

“It’s scary going forward as a country where we end up,” said Walton, who handled a series of cases on Jan. 6. “Because what happened on January 6 is not a thing of the past. Unfortunately, it is something that still haunts us because the people who instigated what happened are still engaged in the same rhetoric. which resulted in riots. That day. This is a very serious situation because it goes to the very core of what we consider democracy.”

Billiard’s defense attorneys unsuccessfully sought a home sentence during Friday’s hearing, arguing that he is remorseful for his actions. Defense attorneys also said Billiard had been exposed to unwanted propaganda and influence from other defendants on Jan. 6 — including the founders of Oathkeepers. Stewart Rhodes – In custody pending trial in Virginia. But Walton said the crimes committed by Billiard, who sprayed officers with a prison-made form of bear spray that was deemed particularly dangerous, were too serious to warrant the leniency of house arrest. After Walton warned of the danger of spreading misinformation about the Capitol riots, Billiard was sentenced to 40 months in prison.

Walton, who was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in 2001, said he doesn’t believe people refer to the defendants as “political prisoners” on Jan. 6 or what happened inside the Capitol that day. How do they “live with themselves” when they spread misinformation about it?

Although Walton did not name anyone in particular, on January 6 the defendants and their sympathizers staged an overnight protest outside the Washington, D.C., prison, which the defendants often refer to as political prisoners. At a protest on Thursday, a defendant called the Jan. 6 capital attack an act of entrapment by the FBI and Antifa.

Several members of Congress, including Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green of Georgia, have referred to the January 6 defendants as “political prisoners.” Fox News host Tucker Carlson has also been accused. To baseless and “cherry-picked” claims about the attack.

“If you have a significant number of people who are willing to subvert the election process, democracy cannot survive because the outcome is not what they wanted,” Walton said during Billiard’s hearing. “I mean, it’s a sad state of affairs that we’re at a point where somebody loses — and loses by 7 million votes — but still, spouses that they won. And there’s a lot of people who believe. that such was the case. Despite any evidence suggesting that the allegations had any merit. 60-There are a few court cases that have rejected the proposition that the election was somehow rigged.”

Walton criticized those who followed the “calls of a demagogue”.

The courtroom erupted as Walton announced Billiard’s sentence. His mother protested his decision, saying, “It’s not right.”

“He made his bed,” Walton replied about Billiards. “Now he has to lie in it.”

According to a Justice Department news release Friday after the sentencing, “Billiard pointed the nozzle of the canister at officers who were trying to stop the crowd from advancing toward the Capitol Building. ” “He then released a chemical irritant towards the group of officers. Immediately after he sprayed the irritant, Billard and other rioters surrounded the police line, leading the officers down the stairs to Lower West Terrace. Back off.”

At the hearing, prosecutors said Billiard’s actions helped the rioters enter the Senate conference room. They said some in the crowd stole furniture from the room and shared it with the rioters who were attacking the police, including the conference room door that the attackers used as a shield.

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