After one year of being silenced while he awaited his trial, the 45-yr-old, gay, former Democrat hairstylist turned conservative activist, #WalkAway founder Brandon Straka, finally had his day in court.
This afternoon, the popular conservative activist Brandon Straka was sentenced to 3 years probation and a $5,000 fine for his role in the January 6th Capitol incident by sentenced Trump-appointed U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich. In her remarks to Straka, Judge Friedrich said she finds it “deeply disturbing” that the WalkAway founder used his social media influence to encourage and defend the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.
“Election challenges are fought in the courts, not by storming the Capitol,” Judge Friedrich said.
Courthouse News reports – In the case of Straka, it was noted that his personal Twitter account has nearly 500,000 followers. Using his “significant public profile,” Straka encouraged others to storm the Capitol, to take a protective shield from a police officer, and to “hold the line” even after he departed the Capitol grounds, a prosecutor said in a court filing.
“Even if he didn’t personally engage in violence or property destruction during the riot, Straka encouraged and celebrated the violence of that day,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Brittany Reed wrote.
Straka told the judge that he and his social media followers don’t condone violence.
“It’s not who they are, and it’s not who I am, which is why they love our movement,” he said. “My relationship with my fans and followers is not just about politics. It’s about love.”
Scott McFarlane of McFarlane News, who gleefully reports updates on Jan 6 political prisoners, gave a play-by-play accounting of Straka’s trial today on Twitter. Here is a portion of his reporting:
Straka had hundreds of thousands of social media followers .. per feds.
Straka’s defense attorney says the government is “criminalizing political speech” in this case.. saying Straka’s pre-Jan 6 communication is protected.
His defense lawyer just told the judge that Straka got “caught up in the moment” on Jan 6
Defense lawyer says the media is at fault for trying to lump everyone at Capitol on Jan 6 “into the same category.”
After which, the judge presses the defense lawyer about what Straka meant when he posted “Patriots, hold the line” on Jan 6
Defense: “His point in saying hold the line was …… continue to message… ” Continue with political speech.
Defense: “People get emotionally caught up in politics on both sides. Mr. Straka got caught up that day.”
Brandon Straka is now speaking in court.
He says the prosecutors have inaccurately portrayed him as “reckless” and responsible for the actions of others.
Straka: “Your honor, my followers do not support violence,” .. and they Back the Blue, he says
Straka says he’s received 500 character letters from his “supporters” and references his movement as a movement focused on “love.”
Prosecutors have characterized Straka as a social media influencer.
Straka says he’s lost professional opportunities and close relationships after Jan 6
“I’m sincerely sorry to all the people of America… even those who hate my guts….”
Straka apologizes to Capitol Police.
“No protest should ever get out of hand.. to the point of a riot.”
And he apologizes to all Members of Congress.. no matter their “political affiliation.”
“I was there. And I’m truly sorry for that.”
DC judge Dabney Friedrich is issuing the sentence specifying Straka engaged in disruptive conduct.
She says Straka has a 1st Amendment right. “But trespassing on restricted grounds is not.. protected by the 1st Amendment.”
“He’s not being prosecuted or sentenced” for political views.
Judge: “Election challenges are fought in the courts. Not by storming the Capitol.”
Prosecutors had recommended four months of home detention for Straka, a longtime resident of New York City. The Nebraska native pleaded guilty in October to a disorderly conduct charge, a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment.
The big question now is, has one year of being interrogated and threatened by the FBI and law enforcement dampened or even ended the fighting spirit of the outspoken Trump supporter?
Is Straka being placed on 3-year probation to silence him and shut down his powerful movement until after the 2024 election?
Time will tell…