Jacob Chansley, the man whom federal prosecutors called “the public face of the Capitol riot,” was sentenced Wednesday to 41 months in federal prison, one of the longest sentences handed down so far in connection with the events of January 6.
Chansley, a 34-year-old Donald Trump supporter known as “QAnon Shaman” and wearing a Viking hat with fur and horns and wearing a spear with an American flag when he stormed the Capitol, was convicted by Judge Royce C. Lamberth. Last week, Lamberth sentenced a New Jersey man who assaulted an officer outside the Capitol on Jan. 6 to 41 months in federal prison.
“If the defendant had been peaceful that day, your honor, we would not be here,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Paschall told Lamberth on Wednesday.
“‘Time up, fuckers’ is not peaceful, your honor,” Paschall said, referring to what Chansley was shouting in the Senate. “It’s shocking.” She noted the letter Chansley left on Vice President Mike Pence’s desk – saying, “It’s only a matter of time. Justice is coming.” – was “not peaceful.” She called the note “a threat”.
Paschall said that although Chansley did not assault police that day, the judge should take note on January 6 and read the threat note in that context. She also noted that Chansley called Pence “a fucking traitor” from the Senate tribune.
“None of what happened on January 6, 2021 was peaceful,” Paschall said, adding that Chansley was engaged in “obstruction activities” that day. She asked the court to send a message to the “flag bearer” on January 6 and to any other people, regardless of their political beliefs, that there are consequences to trying to hinder American democracy.
Chansley, who pleaded guilty in September to a crime of obstruction of an official trial, was among the first 30 troublemakers to break into the capital on January 6 and face police officers outside the Senate chamber as senators came to safety.
Speaking in front of Lamberth just before he was convicted, Chansley thanked the judge for moving him to another prison where he could get an organic diet.
“I believe in the freedom of my whole heart and my soul,” Chansley said. “But I also believe in law and order, because without law and order you can not have freedom.”
Chansley said he came to understand why Lamberth kept him incarcerated before the trial, saying “honorable men” admit when they make mistakes.
‘I was sitting in isolation because of me, because of my decision. I broke the law, and if I believe in freedom, if I believe in law and order … I should take responsibility, ”Chansley said. “I needed time to reconsider.”
Chansley said he realized he was wrong to enter the Capitol, but said he was not “a rebel” or “a domestic terrorist,” just “a good man who broke the law.” Chansley said he would “do everything differently” if he could go back and relive January 6th.
A few minutes later, Chansley entered the U.S. Senate gallery, shouting “time has passed for the devils,” while other troublemakers flew through senators’ desks in the chamber below. Eventually, he came to the floor in the Senate, where he took the seat that had been occupied by then-Vice President Mike Pence. Chansley called Pence “a fucking traitor” and put his letter on the desk.
Chansley’s lawyer, Al Watkins, said in September that his client “REJECTES THE ‘Q’ MONIKER” and no longer wanted to be known as QAnon Shaman and had begun to move away from his belief in the QAnon conspiracy theory.
“Have I witnessed Jacob cross a path away from QAnon? Absolutely. Has he loosened up so that his boots do not smell of QAnon? No. No, it’s still there,” Watkins said. “And it’s going to take time.”
On Wednesday, Watkins said the court was in a “remarkably unique position” both to render justice and to help bridge the political divide by showing mercy to Chansley.
“He is responsible and wants to be held accountable,” Watkins said.
The government asked for a 51-month sentence in federal prison, saying his criminal acts had “made him the public face of the Capitol riot.”
“Armed with a six-foot-long spear, the defendant boldly marched past dozens of law enforcement officers, with troublemakers throwing trash of all kinds at those who opposed them, past broken windows and through doors ringing alarm bells,” the federal said. prosecutors. wrote in a judgment note. “The defendant was among the first 30 rioters to break into the American Capitol building. The defendant then persecuted the sacred halls of the building, outraged other members of the mob with his screaming obscenities about our nation’s legislators and ignored the ‘opportunity’ to free our government from those he has long considered traitors. “
The Justice Department told Judge Lamberth that it was “important to tell future troublemakers and future mobsters – especially those who intend to unduly influence the democratic process – that their actions will have consequences.”
The January 6 injury, the DOJ claimed, “will last much longer than the hours delay” in the certification of the results of the presidential election.
“The world saw the actions of this accused and others on January 6, 2021, shake one of the foundations of our democracy – the peaceful transfer of power by free and fair elections – and have made us all question the security and safety of the country in which we live. , “They wrote.” These enormous damages, which are due to the actions of this defendant, must be deterred so that we never see a similar attack on our democracy again. “
Chansley’s lawyer argued in a judgment note that his client has “vulnerability to mental health” and showed “apparently Forest Gump-like oblivion to much of the activity and many of the actions of those around him as he approached, walked in and crossed the Capitol.” Chansley’s father was jailed for the “lion share” of Chansley’s life, and his stepfather – as Chansley’s lawyer said imposed on his client “extraordinary physical and mental abuse” – died of suicide in 2013. Chansley’s lawyer said his client has now been diagnosed with schizotypal personality disorder, anxiety and depression.
“Patience and compassion represent the only course that is medically appropriate, ethically appropriate, and legally appropriate,” Watkins wrote, asking the court to sentence his client to sentencing. “It’s time for the shaman to begin his journey to freedom – not from prison, but from significant mental health issues. It’s time for Mr. Chansley to begin his journey from within.”
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