Prosecutors have called for Jacob Chansley, the so-called “QAnon shaman” who has become one of the most recognisable members of the mob that attacked the Capitol on 6 January, be sentenced to 51 months in jail.
If the judge grants that term, it would be the longest sentence yet handed down to any individual in relation with the insurrection – a category that includes hundreds of people facing charges ranging from low-level misdemeanours to more serious criminal offences.
Mr Chansley, who also goes by the name Jake Angeli, was already a familiar face at QAnon-related events before he entered the Capitol shirtless wearing his trademark horns, face-paint and furs. Images of him posing on the dais of the Senate chamber are among the most iconic from the deadly riot.
According to a court filing delivered by prosecutors late on Tuesday, this visibility is a large part of the reason why he should be sentenced to a long term.
The prosecutors begin their argument by quoting a prayer of sorts that Mr Chansley delivered in the Senate chamber: “Thank you Heavenly Father for gracing us with this opportunity…to allow us to send a message to all the tyrants, the communists, and the globalists, that this is our nation, not theirs. That we will not allow America, the American way of the United States of America to go down…
“Thank you for filling this chamber with Patriots that love you… Thank you for allowing the United States of America to be reborn. Thank you for allowing us to get rid of the communists, the globalists, and the traitors within our government.”
As the prosecutors argue, Mr Chansley used his social media channels “to spread the type of false information and hateful rhetoric” about the 2020 election result that led to the insurrection – and that given the visibility and intensity of his actions on the day, his case is one that demands stern sanction. “The severity of his actions, and respect for the laws of this country, must be impressed upon him,” they write.
“The government cannot overstate the seriousness of the defendant’s conduct as one of the most prominent figures of the historic riot on the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Armed with a six-foot long spear, the defendant brazenly marched past dozens of law enforcement officers, with rioters throwing debris of all kinds at those who opposed them, past broken windows and through doors ringing with alarm bells.
“The defendant was among the first 30 rioters to penetrate the US Capitol building. The defendant then stalked the hallowed halls of the building, riling up other members of the mob with his screaming obscenities about our nation’s lawmakers, and flouting the ‘opportunity’ to rid our government of those he has long considered to be traitors. All of this took place mere minutes after the Vice President of the United States was evacuated from the Senate Chamber. The defendant’s consistent argument throughout this case that his actions on that day were peaceful is undermined by the evidence submitted to this Court, but demonstrative of a persistent mindset that could lead the defendant to commit similar acts again.”
Mr Chansley’s defence team does not dispute his presence or prominence at the riot, and he has pleaded guilty to the charges against him. The chief arguments made on his behalf – including in a court filing this week that quoted Forrest Gump – are that he has already served a long spell in jail including in solitary confinement, that he shows “sincere remorse” for his actions, and that he has a long history of mental health problems dating back to the mid-2000s. However, he was found fit to stand trial.
Mr Chansley’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for 17 November.
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