Gay Trump supporter and online influencer Brandon Straka has been sentenced over his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last year.
Straka, a hairdresser and “former liberal” who founded the #WalkAway campaign to convince Democrats to support Republican candidates, pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in October last year.
On Monday, he was sentenced to three months of house arrest, 36 months of probation, issued a $5,000 fine, and also charged $500 for damage inflicted on the Capitol building.
Straka was arrested last year, a few weeks after the attempted insurrection took place. He faced multiple charges, including impeding a law enforcement officer during civil disorder, knowingly entering and remaining on restricted grounds without lawful authority, and engaging in disorderly conduct.
He was identified by law enforcement after posting a video to Twitter showing him shouting “Go, go!” near a Capitol entrance. Straka also tweeted multiple references to the attack, including instructing his fellow “patriots” at the Capitol to “HOLD. THE. LINE!!!!”
Another tweet read: “I arrived at the Capitol a few hours ago as Patriots were storming from all sides. I was quite close to entering myself as police began tear-gassing us from the door. I inhaled tear gas & got it in my eyes. Patriots began exiting shortly after saying Congress had been cleared.”
Multiple witnesses also reportedly provided videos to the FBI showing Straka shouting “We’re going in!” outside the Capitol. He also urged rioters to steal a Capitol Police officer’s riot shield, telling a crowd of people surging past the officer to “take it away from him.”
In the aftermath of the riot, Straka dismissed the popular falsehood among conservatives that Antifa was behind the attacks, tweeting, “I was there. It was not Antifa at the Capitol. It was freedom loving Patriots who were DESPERATE to fight for the final hope of our Republic because literally nobody cares about them. Everyone else can denounce them. I will not.”
District Judge Dabney Friedrich, sentencing Straka, called it “deeply troubling” that he had used social media to defend the riot.
“He still persists in this idea that it is okay to storm the Capitol to contest an election, and that’s not what we do in this country. People who do that are not patriots,” she said.
Friedrich, a Trump appointee, pointed to Straka’s #WalkAway campaign, which purported to bring people together for “civil discourse” and “to not be violent.”
“His actions that day are so inconsistent with that,” Friedrich said.
Straka told the court that he was “deeply sorry and ashamed for being present at an event that sent members of Congress running in fear to evacuate a building,” CNN reports.
He added, “No police officer should ever have to feel their life or safety are in jeopardy because they’re working at a protest.”
After pleading guilty to disorderly conduct, Straka used his mailing list to beg for money towards his legal bills and to “push back against the one sided hate attacks that are happening right now.”
“I still have nothing to say about my case, other than this- as it’s being widely (and likely INTENTIONALLY) misreported: I did NOT enter the Capitol building,” he wrote.
Straka previously made headlines in 2020 after he was removed from an American Airlines flight for refusing to wear a face mask.
Straka was filmed arguing with flight attendants after boarding the flight at LaGuardia airport — reportedly while en route to a Trump campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla.
One passenger who live tweeted Straka’s meltdown on the plane said that he refused to wear a mask and refused to provide any paperwork that supported his decision. After Straka was eventually removed from the plane, the other passengers reportedly applauded.
Straka, meanwhile, took to social media to vent his frustrations over the perceived injustice, calling American Airlines’ decision to remove him “absolutely insane.”
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