Chris Lange, FISM News
An Arkansas man who was photographed inside the Capitol building with his feet propped up on the desk of then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi was sentenced on Wednesday to four and a half years in prison.
Richard “Bigo” Barnett was found guilty in January 2023 on all eight counts of an indictment that included felony charges of civil disorder and obstruction of an official proceeding for his actions during the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol protest.
Federal prosecutors had asked the judge to sentence Barnett to more than seven years in prison followed by three years of supervised release, according to a Fox News report. Barnett’s attorney argued that he should receive no more than six months for his actions.
District Judge Christopher Cooper noted during sentencing that the retired firefighter had become one of the faces of the riot and suggested that Barnett seemed to enjoy his notoriety.
“All the folks who follow ‘Bigo’ need to know the actions of Jan. 6 cannot be repeated without some serious repercussions,” Cooper said, as reported by Cheddar News.
PROSECUTORS: BARNETT BROUGHT CONCEALED ‘STUN DEVICE’ INTO CAPITOL BUILDING
Barnett, 63, testified that he got swept up in the crowd entering the Capitol building and that he inadvertently found himself in Pelosi’s office during his search for a restroom. He said that he was simply “going with the flow” and struck his infamous pose after two reporters pointed their cameras in his direction and told him to “act natural.”
Barnett told the judge that he regretted participating in the demonstration but said that prosecutors wanted him to be “remorseful for things I did not do.”
Cooper rejected Barnett’s assertion that his intentions that day were benign, noting that Federal investigators said that the defendant had entered the Capitol building armed with a concealed “stun device.”
Prosecutors said that prior to leaving the Capitol grounds, Barnett grabbed a bullhorn and declared: “We took back our house, and I took Nancy Pelosi’s office!” They accused Barnett of subsequently posting “falsehoods” about the day’s events on social media in an attempt to minimize his role in the breach.
“The defendant still believes he can say or do whatever he wants and if someone else is threatened by it, that’s their problem,” prosecutor Alison Prout said.
BARNETT WILL APPEAL CONVICTION
During his trial, Barnett admitted to taking an envelope addressed to Pelosi and leaving a “nasty note” on her desk. According to an NBC News report, it read: “Nancy, Bigo was here” followed by what the network described as “a sexist expletive.”
Defense attorney Jonathan Gross pointed out that Barnett did not hurt anyone or damage property. He said that his client was unfairly singled out because of the photo, which was widely circulated by the media and social media users.
“Mr. Barnett should not be punished because the government thinks he’s a symbol,” Gross argued.
Barnett vowed to appeal his conviction.
“Jan. 6 was a traumatic day for everyone, not just law enforcement,” he said.
More than 1,000 Trump supporters have been charged with federal crimes related to the Capitol protest, among which more than 500 have been sentenced so far, with prison terms ranging from one week to more than 14 years.