The eagerness of federal prosecutors to target anyone associated with the protest on Capitol Hill just over three years ago has long drawn sharp criticism, particularly in contrast with the far more permissive approach to the destructive riots that spread across the nation the previous summer.
More than a dozen defendants charged following riots in Portland, Oregon, in 2020 were offered diversion agreements and 70 to had their cases dismissed without a conviction. #TWTFrontPagehttps://t.co/4koDfr98W5
— The Washington Times (@WashTimes) January 5, 2024
Earlier this month, U.S. Attorney for D.C. Matthew Graves confirmed that the Justice Department is not finished pursuing charges for individuals who participated to any extent in the Jan. 6, 2021, protest — even if they did not enter the Capitol building.
“An important note about those who remained outside the building,” he said. “We have used our prosecutorial discretion and to primarily focus on those who entered the building, on those who engaged in violent or rough conduct on Capitol grounds.”
With more than 1,230 individuals already facing federal charges, however, the agency is apparently widening its scope to focus on those who remained on the Capitol grounds during the protest.
“If a person knowingly entered a restricted area without authorization, they had already committed a federal crime,” Graves added. “Make no mistake, thousands of people [were] occupying the area that they were not authorized to be present in in the first place.”
As Air Marshal National Council Director Sonya LaBosco recently claimed, even those who simply traveled to the area on or around Jan. 6, 2021, are now under surveillance by air marshals, leaving most commercial flights without a marshal on board.
The heavy-handed prosecutorial approach to the Jan. 6 protesters clearly suits President Joe Biden’s political agenda, as reflected in his remarks over the weekend.
“Since that day, more than 1,200 people have been charged for assaulting the Capitol,” he told a crowd in Pennsylvania on Saturday. “More than 900 have been convicted or pleaded guilty. Collectively to date, they have been sentenced to more than 840 years in prison.”
His speech rehashed familiar grievances, including a denunciation of former President Donald Trump’s insistence that the actions of most of the protesters did not warrant criminal prosecution.
“What has Trump done?” Biden asked. “Instead of calling them criminals, he’s called these insurrectionists patriots. … And he promised to pardon them if he returns to office.”