Man who put feet on Pelosi’s desk during US Capitol riot released

Richard Barnett released as hundreds of cases related to the January insurrection continue in US courts.

Pelosi desk
Richard Barnett sits at the desk of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, after rioters breached the US Capitol security in Washington, DC, on January 6, 2021 [File: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA-EFE]

The man infamously photographed with his feet on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk during the January 6 Capitol riot was released from detention on Monday afternoon.

Richard Barnett, a self-proclaimed white nationalist and apparent follower of the QAnon conspiracy movement, was released due to recent changes making it more difficult to keep people in pretrial detention in the District of Columbia.

Supporters of former president Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol to interrupt a joint session of Congress certifying Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential victory.

The rioters were largely members of far-right and militia movements who had grown close to Trump during his four-year term.

US District Court Judge Christopher Cooper said “January 6 was a criminal effort to undermine one of the essential pillars of our democracy” carried out by “people who were sold and willingly bought a bill of goods that the election was stolen”.

But Cooper did not find evidence that Barnett met the tightened criteria for pretrial detention: “The burden faced by the government, clear and convincing evidence, has just not been met in this case, in my view.”

Proud Boy members walk toward the US Capitol in support of then-President Donald Trump on January 6. Several of their leaders, members and associates have become the central targets of the Justice Department’s sprawling investigation. [File: Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo]

Barnett’s lawyer told TMZ the accused rioter will be kept in home detention and “is barred from having any weapons in his home”.

The judge told Barnett, who lives in Arkansas, he will be sent back to jail if he violates the terms of his release.

Federal prosecutors said in court documents last week that more than “400 individuals have been charged in connection with the Capitol attack … The investigation continues and the government expects that at least one hundred additional individuals will be charged”.

The scope of the investigation into the riot is unusually large and spans suspects from the entire US.

Members of militia movements, such as the Oath Keepers, have been charged with conspiracy in relation to planning the insurrection.

The charge allows prosecutors to bring cases against members of the conspiracy, even if they committed no crime other than being aware of the plot.

Jon Schaffer, a founding member of both the Oath Keepers and metal band Iced Earth, pleaded guilty to two felony charges of obstructing the certification of the 2020 election and breaching a restricted building on April 16.

He is now cooperating with investigators.

Stewart Rhodes, founder of the citizen militia group known as the Oath Keepers, center, speaks during a rally outside the White House in Washington, Sunday, June 25, 2017 [File: Susan Walsh/AP Photo]

Authorities have also charged 18 members of the far-right Proud Boys with crimes ranging from conspiracy to assaulting a police officer.

Five people died as a result of the riot, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. Video footage and images show far-right rioters assaulting under-equipped police officers.

Michael Fanone was among the officers attacked that day. He was dragged down a long flight of Capitol stairs and hit with a stun gun, causing a mild heart attack, prosecutors allege.

Fanone said watching Trump and other politicians downplay the events of January 6 has been difficult.

“I experienced the most brutal, savage hand-to-hand combat of my entire life, let alone my policing career, which spans almost two decades,” Fanone told CNN on Tuesday.

Source: Al Jazeera