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Protesters who stormed US Capitol facing up to 20 years in prison

Protesters gather on the second day of pro-Trump events (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
January 14, 2021

The FBI has opened roughly 160 cases involving individuals who took part in the demonstration on Capitol Hill that turned violent last week, some of whom could face up to 20 years in prison.

Acting U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin and FBI Washington Field Office Assistant Director in Charge Steven D’Antuono said during a Tuesday press conference that mounting federal charges are “only the beginning.”

“We’re looking at significant felony cases tied to sedition and conspiracy,” Sherwin said, adding that some of the charges being considered by the Justice Department have sentences of up to 20 years in prison.

While some are only facing misdemeanor charges, like “the zip-tie guys,” ongoing investigations that could take years will likely elevate those charges, he said.

“The zip-tie guys” include Air Force veteran Larry Rendall Brock Jr., who was observed holding zip-tie handcuffs inside the Senate chamber. After being arrested in Texas Sunday, Brock was charged with knowingly entering a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and one count of “violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds,” the Department of Justice stated on their webpage dedicated to investigations regarding the violence at the Capitol.

Brock retired as a lieutenant colonel in 2014, Military.com reported, and while his charges are civilian, it is improbable that the Air Force recalls Brock to go through the military justice system.  

If Brock’s charges are elevated to sedition, however, he could fall under the Hiss Act, which strips pensions or pay from federal and former federal employees. If Brock collects military pay and benefits, he could lose both if convicted.  

“The chances that the military would want to step in, and the chances that the government would allow them to step in, are slim to none,” Gary Solis, who taught military law at West Point and Georgetown University, told Military.com.

Sherwin also said the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Metro Police are coordinating to identify the suspects who planted explosives near both the Republican and Democratic National Committee headquarters in D.C.

“We have plenty of federal resources at our disposal, plenty of federal charges to address all of this conduct — from felony murder related to the possession and use of destructive devices to seditious conspiracy,” he said.

A number of veterans took part in the violent protest, but lawmakers and the Pentagon have not yet identified any active-duty members.  

“The fact that this happened on a Wednesday probably saved a lot of careers,” said Kristofer Goldsmith, an Army veteran who studied propaganda campaigns targeting military personnel. “If it had happened on a weekend where people could have taken leave, I think a lot of active-duty people would have been involved.”