Judge sentences Capitol protester who was ‘swept up in the moment’ to eight months prison

Paul Hodgkins, who was one of the Jan. 6 protesters, was sentenced to eight months in prison for taking a selfie with the ‘QAnon Shaman’ and for walking around inside the Capitol Building during the breach.

The Florida man was convicted of one count of felony obstruction after admitting he had been “swept up in the moment.” He begged U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss to not send him to prison because he would lose his job as a mechanic. His pleas fell on deaf ears as he admonished Hodgkins that January 6th will have dramatic consequences for the country. Hodgkins reportedly caused no damage and did not harm anyone. He is the first to be sentenced to prison for the Jan. 6 riot.

Judge Moss said Hodgkins contributed to a grave offense against democracy but he deserved some leniency because he pleaded guilty “exceptionally early,” was non-violent, and issued a “sincere” apology. “Hodgkins was staking a claim on the floor of the United States Senate, not with the American flag but with a flag declaring his loyalty to a single individual over the entire nation,” Moss declared. “When a mob is prepared to attack the Capitol to prevent elected officials from both parties from performing their constitutional and statutory duty, democracy is in trouble.”

“That was not, by any stretch of the imagination, a protest,” Moss concluded. “It was … an assault on democracy.” He stated, “It left a stain that will remain on us … on the country for years to come.”

(Video Credit: MSNBC)

The Justice Department had asked for 18 months and Hodgkins’ attorney asked for in-home detention. The sentence cut the requests in half with the judge claiming that some prison time was warranted given the severity of his actions. Prosecutors said that Hodgkins “like each rioter, contributed to the collective threat to democracy by forcing lawmakers to temporarily abandon their certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory over President Donald Trump and to scramble for shelter from incoming mobs.”

They also proclaimed that the January 6 attack “was an act of domestic terrorism” even though Hodgkins wasn’t charged under terrorism statutes.

It’s been reported that Hodgkins carried a backpack containing protective eye goggles, rope, and white latex gloves while at the Capitol.

Prosecutor Mona Sedky said 18 months would “send a loud and clear message to other would-be rioters that, if and when they’re caught, they will be held accountable … people who might be contemplating a sequel to January 6 will stand down, and there won’t be a next time.”

“He came prepared for confrontation. He had donned his protective eye goggles before he entered the Senate chamber,” she contended, calling it an act of domestic terrorism.

Hodgkins is one of more than 500 protesters who have been arrested following the riot. He was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and entering a restricted building but was allowed to remain free until the sentencing hearing. Prosecutors dropped the lesser charges after he was charged with a felony that carried a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. His sentencing sets a disturbing precedent for other defendants.

During his hearing, Hodgkins gave a statement that acknowledged Biden as President of the United States. He apologized for his conduct as well. Following his eight-month sentence, he will undergo two years of supervision and have to pay a $2,000 fine for reparations to the Capitol.

“I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I am truly remorseful and regretful for my actions in Washington, DC, on January 6. … I say this because of the damage that day’s incident caused and the way this country that I love has been hurt,” Hodgkins stated.

He added, “I came to DC with the intention of supporting a president I love at his event and participating in a march on Pennsylvania Avenue. The storming of the US Capitol building was not something I had any idea would happen.”

According to court documents, Hodgkins was originally charged with 5 felonies for merely walking into the Capitol and staying there for approximately 25 minutes. He walked into the Senate chamber and “took a selfie” with the QAnon Shaman and others on the platform. Then he joined a group who were “shouting” and “praying” in the chamber before departing the Capitol Building approximately 10 minutes later. At the time of his indiscretion, he was wearing a Donald Trump t-shirt and carrying a Trump flag.

Two other women who are grandmothers have been charged with misdemeanors and have been forced to apologize and recognize Biden as president.

The sentencing was met with anger and sarcasm online:

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