Few of us will ever forget the crush of crazed Trump supporters as they formed a human bulldozer and stormed the U.S. Capitol building on that fateful day in January 2021. Wherever you were watching it, whether on social media or television, the melee resembled a swarm of human ants as the rioters, armed with stun guns, pepper spray, baseball bats, and flagpoles that were used as clubs. And of course, one suspect also allegedly planted pipe bombs near the headquarters of the Democratic and Republican Parties. That person has never been found. Another member of the surly mob was armed with a handgun.
But there were five men at the start of all this, who cleared the path for the rioting mob to breach the Capitol on that tragic day. On Friday these men were found guilty, prosecutors say, according to Raw Story. Now the path to prison will be cleared for them.
The men didn’t know each other to begin with, but even so, they found a way to do horrifying harm, throwing linked barriers into a crowd of police officers, and knocking one of them unconscious. Encouraging others to push on, the men continued to fight with police.
Now the men have been convicted of assaulting law enforcement and three counts of obstructing the confirmation of 2020’s election results. I’m sure this offers some consolation for some of the officers and their family members, but the memories remain, a bloodied stain on their psyches.
“these are the defendants who started it,” said Assistant u.s. attorney alexandra f. foster in her november 2 closing argument. “there is little doubt that this moment ignited a fire that lasted around the capitol for hours … they started the capitol breach. now they must take responsibility.”
Unsurprisingly, at least one defense attorney, Stanley Woodward, tried to lighten that responsibility for 39-year-old Ryan Samsel by saying that the five defendants weren’t the ones who started the riot.
“i think history, and only history, will tell us who started the riot on jan. 6,” woodward told the court. “but we can’t, in good faith, submit that one person, or even five people, are culpable for the events that day.”
I’m certain he’s wrong on that one. The events unfolded before the world, watched by millions of people as the roiling mob, encouraged by a soon-to-be-deposed would-be dictator who couldn’t handle the fact that his jig was up. All of those who took part in this riot are culpable, including Donald Trump who incited the mob by telling them, during the Stop the Steal rally to “fight like hell.”
So they fought like hell and we all know how that turned out. So Samsel and his co-defendants James T. Grant, 31, of Cary, N.C.; Paul R. Johnson, 38, of Lanexa, Va.; Stephen C. Randolph, 34, of Harrodsburg, Ky.; and Jason B. Blythe, 28, of Fort Worth, Texas, will have plenty of time to regret fighting like hell.
Politico reports the men will be sentenced in June and prosecutors will likely ask for lengthy sentences. Which is what they deserve for all the harm they caused.
My family has some gin in this game since my ancestors arrived in the nascent country in the 1600s and at least one of my relatives played an important part in the Revolutionary War so when I read about the delusional fools who tried to overtake the Capitol it triggers me. The blood of my ancestors races through my veins all over again.
So yes, their actions p*ss me off.