A Maryland man who used a lacrosse stick attached to a Confederate battle flag to shove a police officer during riots at the US Capitol was sentenced to five months in prison on Wednesday, according to a Justice Department spokesman.
US District Judge Christopher Cooper also sentenced David Alan Blair to 18 months’ supervised release after serving his sentence and ordered him to pay $2,000 in damages, said William Miller, a spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.
Federal prosecutors recommended that Blair be sentenced to eight months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.
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Blair’s attorney, Terrell Roberts III, asked for a suspended sentence.
Blair, 27, left his home in Clarksburg, Maryland and headed to Washington, DC after the January 6, 2021 Capitol riot broke out. Just before 6 p.m., Blair encountered a number of officers from the Capitol’s West Lawn Metropolitan Police Department and refused to heed their orders to leave the area, prosecutors said.
A police officer’s body camera caught Blair walking in front of the police line screaming, “Damn it. Stop backing up. No fear. We are Americans.”
Blair was arrested after pressing his lacrosse stick against an officer’s chest.
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The officer responded to the jab by hitting Blair in the head three times with a baton, drawing blood and causing him a concussion, according to Blair’s attorney.
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About 840 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the Capitol riots. Over 330 of them have pleaded guilty, mostly to an offense punishable by up to one year in prison. More than 200 were convicted, including around 100 who received prison sentences ranging from nine days to over five years.
Blair is one of several Capitol defendants who carried a Confederate battle flag that day. The others include Kevin Seefried, a Delaware man convicted in June of storming the Capitol with his adult son. Another flag-waving rioter, Matthew Ryan Miller, was sentenced in May to 33 months in prison for assaulting police officers and obstructing an official process.
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Blair pleaded guilty in March to one charge of obstructing law enforcement during a civil disorder, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
In a court filing, Roberts said Blair believed he had the right to be where he was and “exercise his First Amendment right to freedom of assembly” before one of the advancing officers pushed him.
“The brute force used to provoke the defendant was not necessary,” Roberts wrote.
Blair did not enter the Capitol. He told investigators he went there to “fight Antifa” so as not to prevent Congress from confirming President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory, according to prosecutors.
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Blair also said he exchanged social media messages with someone who often made anti-Semitic remarks and “blamed the world’s problems on Israel,” US Assistant Attorney Michael Liebman wrote in a court filing.
“Blair went on to say that as a result of these discussions, he came to believe that the United States was “falling apart” and that he needed to “stand up” from communism,” Liebman added.
On Jan. 6, Blair wore a skull-themed spat and a backpack that contained a serrated-blade knife and a roll of duct tape. He told police that he used the duct tape to attach the Confederate battle flag to his lacrosse stick.
Liebman said Blair probably knew that displaying the flag, widely regarded as a symbol of racial hatred, “would anger any ideological opponent he might encounter.”
Blair, whose mother is from South Carolina, “cared deeply about his family’s legacy,” his attorney wrote.
© 2022 The Associated Press
https://globalnews.ca/news/8987825/capitol-rioter-confederate-flag-prison/ Capitol rioter who used Confederate flag to shove cop gets 5 months in jail – National