By Aaron Miller-
The leader of a far-right militia has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for his role in the US Capitol riot.
Stewart Rhodes,(pictured) the founder of the Oath Keepers, was convicted on charges of seditious conspiracy and other crimes.
Rhodes stayed outside the Capitol on 6 January 2021, but co-ordinated with militia members who stormed the building.
The sentence is the longest yet given to a Capitol rioter. Prosecutors had asked for 25 years.
Rhodes was also convicted last year of obstruction of an official proceeding and tampering with documents or proceedings in one of the highest-profile Capitol riot trials.
At a hearing on Thursday, the militia leader showed little remorse, claiming he was a political prisoner and insisting the Oath Keepers only intended to protect other protesters.
US District judge Amit Mehta told Rhodes that he is a continued threat to the US as he wants democracy in the country to “devolve into violence”
Judge Amit Mehta expressed concern about Rhodes’ violent rhetoric, including a threat to hang former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The sentence given to Rhodes is the longest handed out so far for the riot, where thousands of supporters of Donald Trump who objected to the result of the 2020 presidential election stormed the US legislature.
Rhodes began a campaign to reject the results of the election two days after the November 2020 vote, while ballots were still being counted.
He messaged supporters: “We aren’t getting through this without a civil war… Prepare your mind, body, spirit.”
Rhodes and other Oath Keepers then spent thousands of dollars on weapons and equipment and stashed them in a hotel room in nearby Virginia just prior to 6 January 2021.
During the riot itself, Rhodes stayed outside the building taking phone calls and messages while other Oath Keepers stormed the building. Prosecutors said he acted like a “battlefield general” during the melee.
The events that unfolded on January 6, 2021, at the United States Capitol shocked tAmerica and the rest of the world. Among the individuals involved in the riot was Stephen Rhodes, a prominent leader within the extremist group known as the Oath Keepers.
Rhodes played a significant role in the attack on the Capitol, and his subsequent imprisonment carries important messages regarding accountability, the rule of law, and the consequences of undermining democratic institutions.
This article aims to delve into Rhodes’ role in the riot, examine the implications of his imprisonment, and explore the broader significance of this development.
Stephen Rhodes, a former US Army paratrooper, emerged as a leader within the Oath Keepers, a right-wing extremist organization known for its anti-government ideology. The group recruits from law enforcement and military backgrounds and promotes a belief in the need to defend the Constitution against perceived threats.
Disruption Of Proceedings In Certification Of Biden’s Election
On January 6, 2021, during the certification of the 2020 US Presidential election results, Rhodes and other Oath Keepers were part of a coordinated effort to disrupt the proceedings and prevent the peaceful transfer of power. Rhodes was captured on video leading a group of Oath Keepers in military-style attire, wearing tactical gear and communicating via radio earpieces.
The group breached the Capitol building, defying law enforcement and contributing to the chaos that unfolded that day.
Rhodes, a graduate of Yale Law School, pledged to appeal his conviction and sentence. His decision to testify in his own defense last year backfired after prosecutor Kathryn Rakoczy drew him out on inconsistencies in his account of his actions leading up to the Capitol siege and his penchant for conspiracy theories.
During the trial, the Justice Department presented the jury with thousands of messages from Rhodes and other Oath Keepers before, during and after the events of Jan. 6, including Rhodes’ comments that “we aren’t getting through this without a civil war” and “the final defence is us and our rifles.”
Unlike several of his followers and co-defendants, Rhodes never entered the Capitol building, but presiding over the action like a general on the battlefield, prosecutor Jeffrey Nestler told jurors last year.
After the violence that day, and after his arrest, Rhodes repeatedly invoked the prospect of political violence, the judge said.
Judge Mehta said those same qualities inspired dozens of people to travel to Washington for the electoral count–and what made Rhodes “dangerous.”
In more than 20 minutes of remarks, Rhodes cast himself as a political prisoner and said the experience had been “surreal,” likening himself to the protagonist in a Franz Kafka novel. “I believe this country is incredibly divided and this prosecution…is going to make things worse. I consider every J 6er to be a political prisoner because all of them are grossly overcharged.”
Accountability and the Rule of Law
U.S criminal lawyer Patrick Valentia of VIB Law Attorneys hailed the verdict as a victorious one for accountability, particularly surrounding national elections.
He told The Eye Of Media.Com : ”The imprisonment of Stephen Rhodes underscores the importance of accountability and upholding the rule of law. By actively participating in an attack on the heart of American democracy, Rhodes, like others involved, violated fundamental principles that underpin the functioning of a democratic society. His arrest, prosecution, and subsequent imprisonment demonstrate that no individual is above the law and that there are consequences for those who undermine democratic institutions through acts of violence.
”Rhodes imprisonment also sends a clear message of deterrence to individuals and groups that espouse extremist ideologies. It demonstrates that law enforcement agencies are committed to investigating and prosecuting those involved in acts of domestic terrorism. The consequences of such actions serve as a deterrent to others who might contemplate engaging in similar acts of violence, potentially helping to prevent future attacks and protect democratic institutions.
”It will help preserve public trust and confidence in the justice system. The Capitol Hill riot was an unprecedented attack on American democracy, and the public expected those responsible to be held accountable. The justice system sends a message that it is committed to upholding the rule of law, irrespective of an individual’s affiliations or positions of power, which helps to restore faith in the democratic process and reinforces the belief that justice will be served.