Stewart Rhodes, founder of this far -right group, and Kelly Meggs, who directs the section in Florida, became the first participants in the assault of the Capitol to be condemned for this extremely rare charges, liable to 20 years in prison.
The verdict pronounced Tuesday, November 29, after three days of deliberations, sounds like a victory for prosecutors who have been investigating for almost two years on the attack of January 6, 2021 on the Capitol. Stewart Rhodes, founder of the far -right militia of the Oath Keepers, and a member, Kelly Meggs, were found guilty of “sedition” for their participation in the assault on Washington.
This charges, which emanates from a law adopted after the Civil War to repress the last southern rebels, implies having planned the use of force to oppose the government. It is distinguished from the insurgency, with a more spontaneous character.
After two months of a very followed trial, the twelve jurors, on the other hand, dismissed this extremely rare chief of charge, liable to 20 years in prison, for three other members of the Oath Keepers (“The Oath Guard”) . They were all convicted of an obstruction of an official procedure and will be fixed on their sentence in the spring of 2023.
On January 6, 2021, a crowd of supporters of Republican President Donald Trump had sown chaos and violence in the headquarters of the Congress, when elected officials certified the victory of his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, to the presidential election. Since this coup, nearly 900 people have been arrested and a hundred have been sentenced to prison sentences, including the authors of violence against the police. But so far, no one had been found guilty of “sedition”.
Difficult to prove, this accusation chief was very little used: the last conviction for sedition was pronounced in 1998 against Islamist activists responsible for a bomb attack on the World Trade Center in New York five years earlier.
During the trial, prosecutors showed that Stewart Rhodes had started to rally his troops in November 2020. “We are not going to get out of it without civil war,” he wrote them two days after the presidential election on a messaging encrypted. In the following weeks, he said he spent thousands of dollars to buy night vision devices, weapons and ammunition, and stored this arsenal in a hotel in the suburbs of Washington.
“Like a general on the battlefield”
On the day of the assault, helmets and dressed in combat outfit, several members of the Oath Keepers had walked on the Capitol. Some had formed a column to enter it and had turned around after receiving irritating gas. Others had penetrated into his enclosure in military formation. Stewart Rhodes had remained outside, but according to prosecutors, he had directed his troops with a radio, “like a general on the battlefield”.
At the witness bar, this tribune, recognizable by his black eye cache, denied “planning” this attack and argued that the “mission” of the Oath Keepers was to ensure the safety of the demonstration convened by Donald Trump to denounce alleged “electoral fraud”.
supporting having been put in front of the fait accompli, he estimated “stupid” that Kelly Meggs, who heads the Florida section of the Oath Keepers, entered the Capitol. “This opened the door to our political persecution, and see where we are,” said Stewart Rhodes.
Former law graduate of Yale University, this fifties with a winding course founded the Oath Keepers in 2009, by recruiting former soldiers or police officers, initially to fight against the federal state, deemed “oppressive”. Like other radical groups, this militia was seduced by the anti -elite discourse of Donald Trump and totally joined the allegations of brandy electoral fraud – against all obvious – by the Republican.