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Federal judge reminds Jan. 6 rioter what 'patriotism' means

"The defendant came to the Capitol because he placed his trust in someone who repaid that trust by lying to him," Judge Amy Berman Jackson explained.


Seven months ago today, Karl Dresch participated in a riot targeting the U.S. Capitol. The purpose of the attack was to use violence as a means to overturn election results he and his radicalized allies disapproved of.

Dresch, who's spent the last six months behind bars, celebrated the violence on social media, declaring that "traitors" in Congress now "know who's really in charge."

A federal judge this week reminded the defendant that he is not actually in charge. The Washington Post reported:

A federal judge rejected claims that detained defendants in the Jan. 6 Capitol breach are "political prisoners" or that riot participants acted out of patriotism before sentencing a Michigan man to six months in prison Wednesday. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of Washington said Karl Dresch, 41, of Calumet, Mich., was held because of his actions, not his political views, and that others who joined the attack on Congress as it met to confirm the results of the 2020 presidential election could face prison time.

The Michigan man pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of illegally demonstrating inside the Capitol building and received a six-month sentence, but since he's already been in jail for the past six months, he's been released.

But before the legal proceedings were resolved, Jackson was apparently eager to set a few things straight for the record. Obliquely referencing increasingly common Republican rhetoric, the judge explained, for example, that Dresch has not been "a political prisoner." Rather, he was arrested because he was an "enthusiastic participant" in the effort "to subvert democracy, to stop the will of the people and replace it with the will of the mob."

She added, "The defendant came to the Capitol because he placed his trust in someone who repaid that trust by lying to him."

Jackson reminded the defendant that he has the right to vote for whomever he wants, "but so does everyone else. Your vote doesn't count any more than anyone else's. You don't get to cancel them out and call for a war because you don't like the results of the election."

The judge added, "You called yourself and the others 'patriots,' but that's not patriotism. Patriotism is loyalty to country, loyalty to the Constitution, not loyalty to a single head of state. That's the tyranny we rejected on July 4th of 1776."

The Post's report added that of the 550 people to face charges stemming from the Jan. 6 attack, about 30 have pleaded guilty and six have been sentenced.

That said, the New York Times reported overnight that Scott Fairlamb is expected to plead guilty today to assaulting a police officer during the assault on the Capitol, marking "the first time someone charged with attacking the police at the riot will accept responsibility for the crime."

According to his lawyer, the New Jersey man has "agreed to accept a recommendation to be sentenced to 41 to 51 months in prison," which may end up serving as "a guidepost for more than 100 other suspects accused of assaulting police officers on Jan. 6."