Federal judge chides prosecutors for treating Jan. 6 protesters harsher than DC rioters

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., asked during a Friday hearing whether those who have been arrested and detained for alleged roles in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol Building are being treated fairly.

U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden, a Trump appointee, appeared to suggest that at least some of the accused rioters were being treated worse than people arrested for rioting last year in the nation’s capital after George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis, according to CNN.

“The US Attorney’s Office would have more credibility if it was even-handed in its concern about riots and mobs in the city,” said McFadden during a hearing for a Capitol rioter, the network reported. He went on to cite complaints from DC Mayor Muriel Bowser that the Justice Department was dragging its feet in charging DC rioters.

The judge made his remarks during a sentencing hearing for Danielle Doyle, a former ticket sales employee for the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder from 2010-2020 after she pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of unlawful protest at the Capitol Building.

“You were acting like those looters and rioters who attacked our city last year,” said McFadden, who went on to say that several buildings in the nation’s capital were boarded up following the Floyd-related riots for several months.

“You participated in a shameful event, a national embarrassment that, like last year’s riots, made us feel less safe and less confident that our country could be governed by democratic values and not mob rule,” he added, CNN reported.

McFadden’s comments come amid reports that at least some of the Capitol rioters have been treated harshly while being incarcerated. In April, one of the accused, Ronald Sandlin, told U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich during a bail hearing that he and others felt they were in danger of being killed by guards.

“Myself and others involved in the Jan. 6 incident are scared for their lives, not from each other but from correctional officers,” he said.

“I don’t understand how this is remotely acceptable,” he continued, adding that he and the others were being subjected to “mental torture.”

Politico reported at the time that for a number of weeks, several of the inmates at the D.C. Jail complained that they were locked in cells for 23 hours a day and not allowed to have any human contact. The outlet also reported that the same inmates were being subjected to acts of violence, threats, and intimidation from guards.

He also testified that another inmate, Ryan Samsel, “was severely beaten by correctional officers, [is now] blind in one eye, has a skull fracture and detached retina.”

The story was picked up by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, who also made the comparison between Jan. 6 and Floyd rioters.

“How many Antifa rioters or BLM vandals can say” they’ve been mistreated, Carlson asked rhetorically. “Did they lose their eyesight from being beaten in jail? Well, as a group, they didn’t spend much time in jail, actually. Most were sprung on bail immediately when politicians like Kamala Harris helped them pay to get out.”

Doyle’s Friday sentencing hearing before McFadden was one of several who were also sentenced this week “as the pace of guilty pleas…ramps up,” CNN reported.

Federal prosecutors have pushed back on the comparison between last year’s rioters and those who took part in the violence at the Capitol, claiming the former did not rise to the level of insurrection. That said, none of those arrested for the Jan. 6 incident have been charged under laws against insurrection or sedition.

As of last week, 658 people have been charged in connection with the Capitol riot.

Jon Dougherty


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