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News Every Day |

Militia leader found guilty of sedition for leading January 6 attack on US Capitol

FILE PHOTO: Oath Keepers militia founder Stewart Rhodes poses during an interview session in Eureka, Montana, U.S. June 20, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart/File Photo
Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes was found guilty of seditious conspiracy for his actions during the January 6 Capitol riots (Picture: REUTERS)

The founder and other leaders of a far-right militia group were found guilty of sedition on Tuesday for their role in planning the January 6 riots at the US Capitol.

Federal prosecutors accused Stewart Rhodes and four other leaders of the Oath Keepers militia of attempting to block Congress from certifying the results of the 2020 election.

Three other Oath Keepers members charged were Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watson, and Thomas Caldwell, as well as Florida chapter leader Kelly Meggs.

Rhodes faced five charges based on his actions on January 6.

FILE - This artist sketch depicts the trial of Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, left, as he testifies before U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta on charges of seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, Nov. 7, 2022. Rhodes was convicted of seditious conspiracy on Nov. 29. (Dana Verkouteren via AP, File)
This artist sketch depicts the trial of Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, left, as he testifies before U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta on charges of seditious conspiracy (Picture: AP)

After deliberating for three days, a jury found Rhodes guilty of seditious conspiracy, obstructing an official proceeding, and tampering with documents. He as acquitted on two additional charges of conspiracy.

The sedition and obstruction charges each have a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.

‘The Justice Department is committed to holding accountable those criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy on January 6, 2021,’ Attorney General Merrick Garland stated. ‘The prosecutors and agents on this case worked tirelessly, with extraordinary skill and in the best traditions of the Department of Justice.’

Prosecutors showed that Rhodes entered a restricted part of the Capitol grounds on January 6 after crowds forced their way past a police barrier. He then directed his followers to meet him inside the building.

FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Capitol Building is stormed by a pro-Trump mob on Jan. 6, 2021
A mob of supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump fight with members of law enforcement at a door they broke open as they storm the US Capitol Building (Picture: REUTERS)

‘Meggs, Harrelson, and Watkins, along with other Oath Keepers and affiliates – many wearing paramilitary clothing and patches with the Oath Keepers name, logo, and insignia – marched in a “stack” formation up the east steps of the Capitol, joined a mob, and made their way into the Capitol,’ the Justice Department argued in court. ‘Rhodes and Caldwell remained outside the Capitol, where they coordinated activities.’

Outside the Capitol, the Oath Keepers also organized ‘quick reaction forces,’ or QRF teams, to support the capitol rioters. ‘The QRF teams were prepared to rapidly transport firearms and other weapons into Washington, DC, in support of operations aimed at using force to stop the lawful transfer of presidential power,’ the Justice Department stated.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 9, 2022 Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers, is seen on a screen during a House Select Committee hearing to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol, in the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. - Stewart Rhodes, founder of the far-right Oath Keepers militia, was found guilty of sedition on November 29, 2022 for his role in the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol by supporters of former president Donald Trump. (Photo by Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers, is seen on a screen during a House Select Committee hearing to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol (Picture: AFP)

In court, Rhodes took the stand to testify that there was no plan in place for January 6, and that his followers who entered the Capitol building had gone rogue.

However, recordings of Rhodes speaking to his comrades cast doubt on his testimony.

‘If [Trump’s] not going to do the right thing and he’s just gonna let himself be removed illegally then we should have brought rifles,’ Rhodes could be heard saying. ‘We should have fixed it right then and there. I’d hang [House Speaker] Pelosi from the lamppost.’

US-NEWS-CAPITOL-RIOT-OATHKEEPERS-MCT
Stewart Rhodes’ mugshot after his arrest (Picture: Collins County Jail/TNS)

‘As this case shows, breaking the law in an attempt to undermine the functioning of American democracy will not be tolerated,’ FBI Director Christopher Wray stated on Tuesday.

Rhodes is a former US Army paratrooper and disbarred lawyer who once attended Yale Law School. He founded the Oath Keepers in 2009.

The organization quickly became one the largest organizations in the right-wing militia movement. It has attracted ‘tens of thousands of present and former law enforcement officials and military veterans,’ according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The Oath Keepers have volunteered to provide security at far-right protests, including the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a protestor killed a counter-protestor with their car.

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