A man from Tampa (Florida), whose image went viral for showing a Donald Trump flag in front of the US Senate platform during the assault on the Capitol on January 6, has been sentenced this Monday to eight months of jail. The sentence of Paul Allard Hodgkins, 38, is the first for a felony within the events that occurred that day. Since January 6, more than 535 protesters have been arrested across the country for participating in the assault on Congress and more than 165 have been indicted.
Hodgkins pleaded guilty on June 2 to preventing the joint session of Congress in which the votes for the 2020 elections were certified, which gave Joe Biden the winner over Donald Trump. For federal judge Randolph Moss, “the symbolism of the act left no room for doubt.” “I was doing [Hodgkins] a plea in the US Senate, but not with an American flag but with one that declared its allegiance to a single person above the nation, “continued the magistrate. “In that act [portar la bandera de Trump] the threat to democracy that we were all able to contemplate that day is captured ”.
The judge admitted that the conviction of the Florida man was intended to serve as an example for future cases to be tried. He also acknowledged that achieving the proper ruling was very difficult, since the court had no previous judgments – relating to a case that “left a stain in our country that will take years to remove” – on which to base itself.
Before the judge, Hodgkins was sorry for his actions and for having damaged the country he loves. The man, a crane operator, with a beard and long hair, walked through the hemicycle with Trump’s red flag and ski goggles around his neck. Hodgkins acknowledged to the court that he understood that even the presence of other protesters, no matter how peaceful, “may have helped embolden others” to rise up.
“I’m not going to try to excuse myself, now or in the future, I’m not going to blame any politician or journalist,” Hodgkins said, admitting that that day he put “passion before principles.” “I accept, and have all my respect, Joseph Biden, the legitimate president of the United States.” Apologizing to the judge, Hodgkins said he was embarrassed. Next, this 38-year-old man calmly and aloud read a text that he had prepared in which he described the euphoria he felt as he walked through “the main street of Washington”, following a crowd of hundreds of people who were advancing The capitol. “If I had known that the protest was going to escalate as it did, I would never have taken a step beyond Pennsylvania Avenue,” Hodgkins told the judge, ending by adding that it was “a stupid decision” that he made.
According to the prosecution, Hodgkins entered the Capitol with a backpack containing protective glasses, ropes and latex gloves, where a photograph was taken, in “the heart” of Congress, just when the constitutional responsibility of confirm the victory of the president ”. However, the prosecutor acknowledged that Hodgkins “did not participate in or encourage violence or destruction of property” and had accepted “responsibility very early.”
Five people died in the Capitol uprising, including a police officer and an assailant who was shot by law enforcement officers. Two other policemen who lived that day in the first line of defense in Congress died days later taking their own lives.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.