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Shortly after news outlets declared that Joe Biden had won the 2020 presidential election, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Larry R. Brock Jr. began calling for revolution.
“We must execute the traitors who are trying to steal the election and that includes the media and social media leaders who support and support the coup plotters,” Brock wrote on Facebook on November 8, 2020. “No way should we accept these rigged elections,” he wrote in December. “I think SCOTUS will have to see if they don’t act that there will be blood.” On Christmas Eve he wrote: “I bought a body armor and a helmet for the coming civil war.”
On January 6, 2021, he showed up on the floor of the US Senate wearing this helmet and body armor and handcuffed with zip ties he picked up in the Capitol. Though he did not physically assault police, his attire that day and his earlier comments prompted a federal judge on Friday to sentence him to two years in prison for obstructing congressional certification of the electoral college election.
Brock, 56, of Grapevine, Texas, graduated from the Air Force Academy and served nine years on active duty and another 16 years in the reserves as a pilot and saw combat operations in Afghanistan, his attorney’s sentencing statement said. Prosecutors noted in their brief that Brock was fired from his job as sales manager in Fort Worth in 2018 for repeatedly threatening violence against his employees.
Like thousands of others, Brock attended the “Stop the Steal” rally hosted by President Donald Trump on Jan. 6, then marched to the Capitol and entered. His attorney, Charles Burnham, claimed Brock was unaware that despite the chaos that raged, he was not allowed into the Capitol that day.
Once at the Capitol, Brock spent about 37 minutes inside, investigators determined, at one point picking up handcuffs with zip ties, which he was soon photographed wearing a bunch of keys with which he tried to open the door of the Senate room through which Vice President Mike Pence had just passed.
Upon reaching the Senate floor, he loudly proclaimed, “This is our house!” Assistant US Attorney April Ayers-Perez wrote.
Shortly after Brock’s photo appeared in the news media, his ex-wife called and identified him to federal authorities, according to court records. Brock also gave an interview to Ronan Farrow in the New Yorker and claimed he didn’t take the zip-tie handcuffs to the Capitol, but found them there.
Brock elected a bench trial before US District Judge John D. Bates rather than a jury trial. In November, Bates found Brock guilty of six counts: obstruction of crime and five misdemeanor charges. The judge called it “unfathomable that Mr Brock believed he was authorized” to be there. He “could look around and realize he was part of a mob,” Bates said.
Air Force combat veteran convicted of criminal involvement in the January 6 riot
An initial calculation of sentencing guidelines by the federal parole board indicated that Brock should face a 57- to 71-month conviction range, and prosecutors recommended the judge give him a 60-month sentence.
However, the policy calculation included an eight notch increase for causing or threatening to cause or threaten property damage or property damage. Bates ruled that the increase was unreasonable because Brock had not harmed anyone or damaged property himself. The judge reduced the sentence to 24 to 30 months. Ayers-Perez nevertheless demanded a prison sentence of 60 months.
Now it was time for Brock to speak to the judge. He refused. Burnham said Brock is still considering appealing his conviction.
The judge said he would normally consider a sentence at the lower end of the guidelines’ range in such a case. Then with Brock’s military service, lack of criminal history, and his attempts to keep some rioters from causing further damage, “that would cause me to stray from policy.” But we have to consider the rhetoric,” the judge said, reading page after page of Brock’s angry Facebook posts.
“I find it particularly reprehensible and frankly incredible that it comes from a senior military officer,” the judge said. “It’s detailed, it’s consistent, it’s both amazing and gruesome. And we take no responsibility and show no remorse whatsoever. Zero.”
Bates not only sentenced Brock to 24 months in prison, but ordered him to be released under supervision for two years after his conviction and to do 100 hours of community service. Like almost all of the January 6 defendants, he was not taken into custody after sentencing and was allowed to arrange his own surrender date.
Brock is the 13th defendant in the trial convicted of obstructing an official process, and the average prison sentence is 45 months, according to the Washington Post. Of the 21 defendants who have pleaded guilty to the disability charges, the average prison sentence was 28.4 months, Post data shows.
Committee hearings on 6 January
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