Oath Keepers Founder, A Texan, Sentenced to 18 Years For January 6 Role
The founder of the Oath Keepers organization, Stewart Rhodes, was sentenced to 18 years in prison for his role in orchestrating a "weekslong plot that culminated in his followers attacking the United States Capitol" according to the Dallas Morning News.
The sentence is the first for seditious conspiracy and the longest sentence handed down to any of the January 6 protestors. According to the AP and the Dallas Morning News, the sentence was considered a landmark decision for the Justice Department and it's January 6th investigation. However, prosecutors didn't get everything they were hoping for against Rhodes.
Prosecutors had urged the judge in Washington’s federal court to put Rhodes behind bars for 25 years, saying he remains a threat to American democracy.
In remarks before the judge handed down his sentence, Rhodes called himself a “political prisoner” and said his only crime is opposing those who are “destroying” the country.
In the more than 1,000 cases dealing with the January 6th riots, the previous longest sentence handed down was 14 years in prison. That sentence was given to a man who had a criminal record who attacked officers with pepper spray. According the the Dallas Morning News, prosecutors leaned on recorded messages and recordings.
Messages, recordings and other evidence presented at trial show Rhodes and his followers growing increasingly enraged after the 2020 election at the prospect of a Biden presidency, which they viewed as a threat to the country and their way of life. In an encrypted chat two days after the election, Rhodes told his followers to prepare their “mind, body, spirit” for “civil war.”
In a conference call days later, Rhodes urged his followers to let Trump know they were “willing to die” for the country. One Oath Keeper who was listening was so alarmed that he began recording the call and contacted the FBI, telling jurors “it sounded like we were going to war against the United States government.”
The attorney for Rhodes plans to appeal.