A Judge Said It Was "Offensive" That A Man Who Threatened Democrats And "Tech Execs" On Jan. 6 Claimed To Be A Victim Of Racism
WASHINGTON - A Texas man who posted on Parler on January 6th calling on supporters of former President Donald Trump to “hunt down” Democrats, technical executives and others was sentenced on Thursday to 14 months in prison.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan received a higher sentence than both Smocks and the prosecutor had asked for. Smocks has been in custody since his arrest in mid-January and pleaded for a sentence equivalent to the roughly nine months he had already served. The government did not endorse a term of imprisonment at the lower end of the recommended range of 8-14 months.
Kittel traveled to Washington on January 6, but were not charged with participating in the riot. Instead, he was charged - and ultimately pleaded guilty - of posting messages online throughout the day promoting violence against anyone who did not support Trump. He wrote that Trump's supporters should "prepare our weapons" and "hunt" for Democrats, tech company executives, and "RINOS," a term that refers to "Republicans on behalf only".
Chutkan, who has sentenced tougher sentences than the government argued on several other January 6 cases, said Smocks had shown no "sincere remorse" for his actions. He will receive credit for the time he has already spent in prison.
A last-ditch effort by Smocks, who is Black, to argue that his charge was rooted in racism backfired. Smocks told Chutkan that he believed he was treated harsher than white Trump supporters who were charged with offenses in the Capitol. He claimed to be the only black man charged in connection with January 6 to be taken into custody, but Chutkan found that was not true - even though the vast majority of the people who attacked the Capitol were white , she opened a hearing for Mark Ponder, a black man who was charged with attacking police in the Capitol, who was also ordered to remain behind bars, on Wednesday.
In his defense, Smocks had also compared himself to people who protested for racial justice in the 20th century, and he invoked civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King. Chutkan, who is also black, said she found the comparison "offensive".
"People died fighting for civil rights, people were gassed, beaten, mentally and physically tortured," said Chutkan. "That you are in this fight as a soldier is really bold."
Smocks is the 19th person convicted on the January 6 indictments. Chutkan's decision was the highest sentence any judge has ever imposed on the cases.
On the morning of January 6th, Smocks had posted a long message to Parler in support of Trump, including a commitment to return to Washington on the eve of President Joe Biden's inauguration: "Many of us will return on January 19, 2021 with our guns in support of the determination of our nation that the world will never forget !!! "
That evening after the riot, he posted another message referring to Trump's statement at a rally earlier that day that his supporters should “fight like hell”: “So for the next 24 hours, I would say let's put our personal affairs in order. Prepare our weapons and then go hunting. Let's hunt these cowards down like the traitors each of them is. These include RINOS, Dems, and Tech Execs. We now have the green light. [All] who oppose Us are enemies of Our Constitution and must be treated as such. "
Smocks pleaded guilty in September of issuing threats, a crime that carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. His estimated sentence reflected an extensive criminal record - he had around 18 previous convictions, according to the government, many of which were fraud, although the prosecutor found Thursday that most of these incidents occurred two decades ago. The government also alleged that Smocks falsely claimed to be a veteran; the Department of Defense had no record of his service in any branch of the military.
Smocks attorney John Machado suggested that there may be evidence of his client's military service in a document relating to one of Smocks' previous criminal cases, but he did not have a copy to show the judge. The judge said she could not accept this representation without seeing the document for herself.
Machado told Chutkan that Smocks had admitted that his threatening messages were "inappropriate," but argued that it wasn't as serious as if he had targeted those threats by name. Chutkan indicated that he had referred to members of Congress and technical executives. When Machado urged and said it would be different if the posts named individuals, Chutkan stepped in and replied that he might want to ask the congressmen who hid under desks during the riot.
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