When violent anti-cop rioters were arrested in last year’s “summer of rage,” high-profile Democrats donated cash to bail them out, left-wing lawyers defended them pro bono and sympathetic judges and DAs bent over backward to let them off scot-free.
But when Trump supporters were rounded up over the Capitol riot, they were on their own. “Lock them up and throw away the key” has been the attitude in the six weeks since.
Denied bail, locked in jail indefinitely, relocated to Washington, DC, far from family and friends, with limited access to lawyers and little money, many face more than 10 years in jail for little more than trespassing on federal property.
Take Richard “Bigo” Barnett, still languishing in a DC federal prison, more than 1,000 miles from home and his ailing wife of 20 years.
In the mythology that surrounds the Capitol riot, the 60-year-old Arkansas window installer is infamous.
The photograph of him sitting in Nancy Pelosi’s chair with one foot up on her desk has gone around the world.
He was interviewed later outside the Capitol, holding an envelope from Pelosi’s office that he was at pains to explain he did not steal, but paid for after soiling it with blood from a cut finger.
“I didn’t steal it,” he said. “I bled on it . . . I put a quarter on her desk . . . and I left her a note on her desk that says, ‘Nancy, Bigo was here, you bitch.’ ”
Barnett, who had never before been in trouble with the law, was concerned that if the envelope with his blood were found, he could be accused of making a “blood threat,” says his cousin Eileen Halpin.
He turned himself in to Arkansas police two days after the riot, and was charged with entering a restricted building, violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, and theft of “public property,” aka the envelope.
A week later, after hearing from seven character witnesses, Arkansas magistrate Erin Wiedemann refused the government’s demand that he be held without bail until trial.
She ordered him released on $5,000 bail, and his wife, Tammy Newburn, was to pick him up the next day. But prosecutors swiftly appealed and, that night, a judge in DC, Chief Judge Beryl Howell, ruled he remain in jail.
He was whisked away to a federal prison in Oklahoma and later moved to DC with others from around the country who have been charged over the Jan. 6 riot.
Barnett waived his Miranda rights when the FBI interrogated him and spent his entire lifesavings of $25,000 on legal fees that did not save him from jail. An additional weapons charge was added, for a stun stick that he claims had no batteries.
He fired his, lawyer and is currently unrepresented and broke.
Veteran New York criminal-defense lawyer Steven Metcalf, representing 25-year-old Jake Lang, who is facing federal riot charges, says he never has seen such heavy-handed treatment of defendants outside of “international drug-kingpin clients.”
Lang also was transferred to DC in the dead of night without his lawyers being informed.
“There is zero logical sense why they were transferred to DC,” Metcalf said. “All the [court] proceedings are going to be virtually conducted [online] for the foreseeable future . . . It just goes to show the unfair treatment and aggressive prosecution.”
For Barnett, it is especially cruel, since he is the sole provider for Tammy, who has heart problems and is lost without him.
His cousin has been trying to gather donations for his legal defence but has been hampered by the fact fundraising platforms such as GoFundMe have banned anyone involved in the Capitol riot.
Yet a 28-year-old woman shown on video punching a female Trump supporter in the face has raised $250,000 on GoFundMe.
Barnett shouldn’t have brought the stun stick to the Capitol, obviously, and shouldn’t have put his foot up on the desk that turned out not to be Pelosi’s, but her aide’s.
He maintains he did not break into the Capitol but was carried by the crowd through open doors. Halpin, his cousin, has footage from his cellphone recorded as he entered the building, in a fast-moving crush of bodies. You can see his hand try to grab the door jamb as the crowd surges through.
“He said he had no choice,” says Halpin. “You either go in or you are trampled.”
It wasn’t until almost 20 minutes later that Barnett entered through the open door. He left after six minutes. Now he faces more than 10 years in prison.
You are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty in this country. But every power structure has conspired to prejudge these people. The president and his media lapdogs have branded them “white supremacists” and “domestic terrorists.” No one cares about them.
The double standards are sickening. You can deplore the riot without sacrificing basic justice and fairness.
Vexed Dems hex vax
Mayor de Blasio complains that low COVID immunization rates in minority communities are due to “profound’’ racial inequity in the vaccine rollout. He also says these communities “distrust” the vaccine.
With impeccable logic, reader Vinny from Poughkeepsie points out the home truths: firstly, “an overwhelming majority” of black people vote Democratic. Secondly, “Democrat leaders like de Blasio, Gov. Cuomo and VP Kamala Harris questioned for months the safety of any Trump vaccine.”
Ergo, why would anyone be surprised if Democratic voters don’t trust the vaccine?
Blas’ bogus brave ride
De Blasio follies #2:
Reader Pete from Staten Island was “compelled” to write after seeing the mayor ride the A train to “prove” it is safe after four people were stabbed, two fatally, on the weekend.
“One difference that he didn’t realize, but New Yorkers have, is that the average NYC transit passenger does not have a police detail. If I had my own private guards, I’d ride the train also — at all hours. However, we are now facing brutal crimes being committed at prime commuting time.
“He isn’t fooling me. He isn’t fooling anyone. No one is convinced by his theatrics.” Amen.