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Capitol Sergeant Who Survived Jan. 6 Fears Another Attack Over Trump’s Election Lies

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WASHINGTON — A U.S. Capitol Police sergeant who came face-to-face with a Proud Boy during the deadly riot on Jan. 6, 2021, said this week he fears another attack could stem from Donald’s false claims. Trump on the 2020 election and anger over the search of his home in Mar-a-Lago.

“I live with fear that another attack will take place because of the rhetoric that is currently being discussed ad nauseum on social media, radio and the news,” the sergeant wrote, identified only by the initials “CT” in court documents. “It’s so exhausting that I don’t watch/follow any form of media anymore, because I live the news on a daily basis.”

He made his comments in a stark victim impact pronunciation in the case of Joshua Pruitt, a member of the far-right Proud Boys organization who was sentenced Friday by U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly.

Americans cannot “sit back” and “become complicit” in the election lies that undermine American democracy, he wrote. Months before the riots, Donald Trump had told the extremist group to “step back” when asked during a presidential debate to reject white supremacy, prompting them to beg allegiance to him.

At the Capitol complex, on January 6, the sergeant faced Pruitt, who pleaded guilty to a felony of obstruction of official proceedings in June.

Joshua Pruitt picks up a “Quiet Please” sign and tosses it over an atrium in the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.US District Court for DC

Pruitt, a former DC bartender, admitted to smashing a sign in the Capitol, throwing a chair at the officer, and coming into close contact with Senate Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., when his intelligence community got him to safety. brought while rioters ransacked offices.

Federal prosecutors wrote in the sentencing note filed Friday that they want Pruitt to spend five years in federal prison.

In the victim statement submitted with the sentencing note, the sergeant wrote that he has not slept well since the attack and that he wakes up tired most days. His wife says he tosses and turns more at night than he used to.

He wrote that the concern in his household about his job was “overwhelming” and that it is difficult to concentrate. He added that his friends, who would have described him as very outgoing before January 6, have noticed that he has become more withdrawn. and tries to avoid large crowds.

Pruitt found himself on the front lines amid a skirmish between police and rioters in front of doors leading to underground tunnels in the Capitol, prosecutors say, and also when rioters allegedly challenged officers to fight after one of them sprayed a chemical irritant. .

The sergeant described Pruitt as “an agitator” who would “continuously poke the bear” and enter the officers’ personal space hoping to provoke a response. He wrote that during an exchange, Pruitt told him to “stop staring at me”.

Joshua Pruitt outside the Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Joshua Pruitt outside the Capitol on January 6, 2021. US District for DC

He also stressed that Pruitt should be punished to the fullest extent of the law for sending a message to others who believe in electoral fraud plots that “try to bring about change by violent means.”

Rioters “got a path to success through a bold lie” and the “continuous passivity” of those who aided their movement, the sergeant wrote. Right-wing militia groups “tried to undermine our democratic process of peaceful transfer of power because they believed a lie told by someone encouraging their behavior.”

Without mentioning Trump, the sergeant wrote, “One man gave these men and women an outlet for their extremist ideologies and also permission to feel empowered by their beliefs to act because they didn’t get their way.”

He continued: “A man said to these militia groups ‘A back and stand by’ which then served as a rallying cry, encouraging them to continue their extremist ways, to prepare to face ‘the injustice’ and the ‘fraudulent elections’. The right-wing ideology dear to these groups and individuals is, in fact, a cancerous tumor in our society.”

With weeks until the midterm elections, the sergeant wrote that other political candidates “who lost by overwhelming majorities” have called their loss “a fraudulent election”, and have chosen a “new story” if things don’t go their way.

He likened their behavior to “toddlers’ tantrums” and drew on his experience as a parent to warn that “if not addressed immediately, the tantrums will get worse and worse.”

The American justice system, he continued, “must not tolerate any form of insurrection or coup d’état because of a lie.”

“Not holding these individuals accountable for their actions will only encourage this horrific behavior if they don’t get their way,” he added. “And if as a democratic country we ‘take a step back’ then we have become complicit and we will let the cancer spread exponentially and the demise of our democracy will fail in vain.”

Johsua Pruitt and a staff member dressed in tactical gear head downtown to meet other members of their Proud Boys division at the rally on January 6, 2021.
Johsua Pruitt and a staff member dressed in tactical gear head downtown to meet other members of their Proud Boys division at the rally on January 6, 2021.US District Court for DC

In a separate victim statement, another member of the Capitol Police Department, identified as Special Agent ML, described the suffering his family endured in the wake of the riots.

“My wife and daughter understand that their husband and father could have died that day, as did some of my colleagues. They will never be at ease when I go back to work,” the special agent wrote. “One of the hardest moments of my life was going home and seeing my wife at 2:30 am crying with despair and relief. knowing that I had come home. .. No one should ever wake up without knowing if a loved one is coming home.”

The special agent, who was with Schumer when they met Pruitt on January 6, said he is still constantly thinking about the attack.

“Every day I step into our country’s beacon, the US Capitol, I relive the memories of that day, and none are as impressive as the moments when I saw Mr. Pruitt approach us with intent to harm the Majority Leader inflict,” he wrote. “It was only due to the fact that our teams had pre-planned alternate evacuation procedures and rapid actions that this impending encounter did not result in bloodshed or serious bodily harm.”

The special agent praised the “heroism, courage and determination of my colleagues who held our democracy together as it was on the verge of danger,” the special agent recalled that he never imagined such a tragedy would come at the hands of fellow Americans. .

The prosecutors’ sentencing note for Pruitt contains racist and anti-Semitic messages he exchanged with the Proud Boys, whose members have been charged with seditious conspiracy.

A previously released document, which prosecutors said was used by the leader of the Proud Boys, outlined a plan to occupy buildings in the Capitol.

The government’s latest filing in Pruitt’s case included further “guidance” given to members of the group a day before the riots, stating: “When the unrest starts, go with the flow. Let the standards wake up America. Show them the PEOPLE are angry.”

Prosecutors wrote that the extremist group’s Maryland-DC branch, which planned to go to the Capitol by at least Jan. 4, tried to intimidate Congress and expected a conflict with police that could stand in their way. .

More than 2,500 people stormed the Capitol and hundreds have been accused of attacking or resisting law enforcement officers outside.

Officials estimate that hundreds of other people who entered the building or assaulted agents have yet to be identified by the FBI. The Justice Department has asked Congress for additional funds to help such potential cases blossom.

“We don’t have the manpower,” an official told NBC News.

After a steady stream, the rate of arrests has slowed in recent months. Last week, two new defendants were detained, including Antonio LaMotta, a QAnon believer from Virginia who had previously been arrested for showing up armed outside a Philadelphia polling station. Online sleuths had spotted LaMotta in the Capitol on Jan. 6 on surveillance footage released about a year before his arrest.

More than 350 defendants have pleaded guilty to the riots. The first eight defendants on January 6 to face a jury trial: Guy Reffitt, Thomas Robertson, Dustin Thompson, Thomas Webster, Timothy Hale-Cusanelli, Anthony Robert WilliamsMatthew Bledsoe, and Erik Herrera – were condemned at every point they faced. Several other defendants have been convicted by judges in court trials and only one defendant was fully acquitted.

Reffitt, a Texas extremist whose own son warned the FBI about his father prior to the riots, and Robertson, a Virginia police officer who stormed the Capitol wearing a gas mask and armed with a stick, received the longest sentences on Jan. 6. case so far. Both received 87 months – more than seven years – in federal prison.

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