DOJ recommends punishment of #WalkAway founder for Jan. 6

The US Department of Justice is calling for the gay founder of the #WalkAway campaign to be sentenced to four months house arrest, three years probation and 60 hours of community service, in addition to paying a $500 fine, for joining and promoting the riots that took place on January 6, 2021 at the United States Capitol.

“The defendant, Brandon Straka, is a social media influencer who livestreamed his participation in the January 6, 2021 attack on the United States Capitol – a violent attack that forced the suspension of the certification of the 2020 Electoral College vote count, threatened the peaceful transfer of power after the 2020 presidential election, injured more than a hundred law enforcement officers and resulted in more than $1 million in damages materials,” the government wrote in a sentencing memorandum that was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The memo claimed that Straka entered the US Capitol grounds shortly after 2:20 p.m. when he knew the grounds were closed and “the US Capitol had been breached.” Once on the steps of the US Capitol, he urged rioters to take a shield from a police officer who was being attacked by the mob, the memo said. Straka made a video himself on the steps. He told the government he left the US Capitol after 15 minutes. There is no evidence that he ever entered the building or engaged in any acts of violence. The memo notes that he continued to urge the crowd to fight.

“After he left, but with law enforcement still trying to clear the area, Straka tweeted, ‘Patriots on Capitol Hill – WAIT.’ THE. LINE !!!!’ “, says the memo. This tweet was posted at 5:33 p.m., about three hours after Straka left the United States Capitol.

Straka was arrested on January 25 last year. He agreed to an interview with the FBI after his arrest, then spoke to the FBI again on March 25. After reaching a plea deal, he was supposed to be sentenced in December, but that date was moved after Dabney Friedrich, the judge in the case, requested a video of Straka on the grounds of the United States Capitol and told asked attorneys for the case to comment on how to “avoid unwarranted disparities in sentencing between defendants with similar backgrounds who have been convicted of similar behavior” in their sentencing notes. He was interviewed by federal law enforcement a third time on Jan. 5, 2022. Straka was described as “cooperative” in the memo.

“Straka’s participation in three interviews conducted at the request of the government together with what appear to be sincere expressions of remorse constitute a powerful counterforce to his aggravating conduct, namely his abuse of his responsibility as a public figure for not agitating and inflame the passions of a rioting crowd,” the memo reads. “The government therefore believes that a lengthy term of house arrest is sufficient to punish the accused.”

The government asked the judge to be allowed to file information with the court under seal. As Gay City News finished this story, Straka had not filed a sentencing memorandum, but on January 14 he filed a notice that he had hired a new attorney.

Straka pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor charge last year. The government included charts in Straka’s sentencing memo that showed his proposed sentence was consistent with sentences given to dozens of other defendants on January 6. The $500 restitution pays its share of the damage to the United States Capitol building. Some defendants had to pay fines in the order of a few thousand dollars and restitution of $500. He is due to be sentenced on January 20.

Straka became popular on the far right in 2018 when he released a video announcing that he was leaving the Democratic Party. As the founder of the #WalkAway campaign, he would go on to make appearances in right-wing new media, at conservative conferences and at Trump campaign rallies.

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