Man in Pelosi’s office kept in jail as Capitol riot arrests go on

An arrested California gym owner claims disguised Antifa was responsible, documents say.

Richard Barnett sits on the desk of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, after supporters of former US President Donald Trump breached the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 [File: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA-EFE]
Richard Barnett sits on the desk of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, after supporters of former US President Donald Trump breached the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 [File: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA-EFE]

The man photographed placing his feet on top of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk during the Capitol occupation has been ordered to stay behind bars as proceedings over his trial continue.

Chief US District Court Judge Beryl Howell ordered Richard Barnett be held without bail until trial.

“His entitled behaviour that he exhibited in videos and photographs when inside the Capitol show a total disregard for the law, a total disregard for the US Constitution,” Howell said during a Thursday hearing over an appeal to a lower court’s ruling that Barnett remains behind bars.

“He not only entered the Capitol without authorisation, but he strutted into the office of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi,” Howell, who Politico reported as “brimming with anger” over the Capitol insurrection, said.

“He felt so entitled, he put his feet on the desk. He felt so entitled, he picked up her mail and walked off with a piece of mail.”

This undated photo provided by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office shows Arkansas resident Richard Barnett, who was taken into custody on Friday, January 8, 2021, after he was charged by federal prosecutors for storming the US Capitol [File: Washington County Sheriff’s Office via AP Photo]

Barnett, of Arkansas, previously told local news he “threw my feet up on the desk” after entering Pelosi’s office, where he noticed he was bleeding. This caused him to pick “up the envelope and put it in my pocket, and I put a quarter on the desk cause (sic) I’m not a thief”.

The riot occurred as a joint session of Congress met to certify President Joe Biden’s electoral victory after months of former President Donald Trump and his allies repeating unfounded claims the election was stolen.

A California gym owner previously known for violating COVID-19 restrictions was arrested and charged for his alleged role in the January 6 Capitol insurrection and accused of making comments about plans to occupy the grounds as early as December.

Jacob Lewis, 37, faces charges of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, according to a federal complaint released on Wednesday.

The complaint features an affidavit from an FBI agent whose name is redacted. It notes Lewis was wearing a bright red “Trump” hat during the storming of the Capitol, which aided in his identification.

Five people died as a result of the riot, including one Capitol police officer.

The affidavit says authorities received a tip from a friend of Lewis that he had flown to Washington, DC, from Victorville, California ahead of the rally.

Lewis previously received attention when he opened The Gym HD in Victorville, on May 1, in spite of orders to keep businesses and gyms close to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The affidavit seems to suggest rioters had plans to occupy the US seat of government as early as December.

“This person stated that during a conversation in December 2020, [Lewis] told them to ‘watch what happens to the Capitol on the 6th. This person said that [Lewis] had shown them pictures of firearms and previously asked them if they could get [Lewis] ammunition,” the document says.

 

According to the affidavit, Lewis “stated that he was never told that he could not enter, and that he was ‘escorted’ by the Police in the building” and he “did not partake in any violence while he was in the building and that he believed that some individuals involved in agitating were Antifa members in disguise.”

Antifa, short for Anti-Fascist, is a loose group of far-left activists who often use violence in confrontations with the far right. Claims they were responsible for the violence are unfounded.

Law enforcement has faced criticism for inaction on plans to occupy the Capitol, much of which was done on publicly available online forums.

Interim Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman apologised on Tuesday for “failures” during the riot, including a lack of manpower and supplies, lax enforcement of a lockdown issued during the insurrection and no adequate communication plan.

Acting head of the FBI, Steven D’Antuono, told reporters at a news conference the FBI warned local law enforcement about the risks when asked about the subject a week after the riot.

Supporters of US President Donald Trump gather at the west entrance of the Capitol during a ‘Stop the Steal’ protest outside of the Capitol building in Washington, DC, on January 6, 2021 [File: Stephanie Keith/Reuters]

Roughly 100 people have been arrested and face federal charges, according to the Justice Department’s website. More are expected to follow.

The US Department of Homeland Security, similar to interior ministries in other countries, warned of “domestic extremist violence” in the coming months in a bulletin released on Wednesday.

Source: Al Jazeera

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