AP. Via Western Tidewater Regional Jail
A Virginia man who stormed the US Capitol wearing an anti-Semitic “Camp Auschwitz” sweatshirt over a Nazi-themed shirt was sentenced Thursday to 75 days in prison.
Robert Keith Packer, 57, declined to address US District Judge Carl Nichols before his sentencing during a hearing held by video conference. The judge noted an “incredibly offensive” message on Packer’s sweatshirt before sentencing.
Nichols said, “I feel like he wore that sweatshirt for some reason. We don’t know what the reason was because Mr. Packer didn’t tell us.”
Photos of Packer wearing a sweatshirt went viral after the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021. When FBI agents asked him why he was wearing it, he replied “largely because I was cold,” a federal prosecutor said in a court filing.
Packer’s sweatshirt depicted an image of a human skull above the words “Camp Auschwitz”. On the back was the word “staff”. It also gave rise to the phrase “Work Brings Freedom”, a rough translation of the German words above the entrance to Auschwitz, the concentration camp in occupied Poland where the Nazis killed more than 1 million men, women and children.
The sweatshirt lay on top of more anti-Semitic clothing
Assistant US Attorney Mona First said she learned on Wednesday that Packer also wore an “SS” T-shirt – a reference to the Nazi Party paramilitary organization founded by Adolf Hitler – under his sweatshirt on January 6. Packer “attacked the same government that the prosecutor said gave him the freedom to express those beliefs, no matter how abhorrent or bad they may be” when he joined the crowd supporting then-President Donald Trump, the prosecutor said. Told.
Packer “wanted to support the sabotage of our republic and to keep a dictatorial ruler from force and violence,” Furst told the judge.
Defense attorney Stephen Breinwald acknowledged that Packer’s dress was “severely offensive”, but argued that it should not be a factor in punishment because he has a free speech wearing it.
“It’s awful that he wore that shirt that day. I don’t think it’s fair to give him the extra time just because he’s allowed to wear it,” he said.
Brennewald said Packer was angry and angry that he was labeled a white supremacist “because he doesn’t see himself that way.” Defense attorneys said Packer wanted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to be prosecuted for linking him to white supremacy during a press conference several days after the riots.
Packer declined to speak during Thursday’s hearing because he did not want his words to be “hidden” on social media, his lawyer told the judge.
Packer one of more than 850 people charged with federal crimes related to January 6
Packer, a resident of Newport News, Virginia, pleaded guilty in January to the offense of parading, demonstrating or staging a sit-in at the Capitol Building, which carries a maximum sentence of six months in prison.
Packer told the FBI that he was about 10 to 12 feet from the rioters, Ashley Babbitt, when a police officer fatally shot him after he broke through a barricading door leading to the speaker’s lobby. Trying to climb through the window.
“He told agents he heard the shot and saw it fall through the window he was trying to climb on,” First wrote in a court filing.
Furst said Packer expressed no remorse during his FBI interview.
“He was more interested in explaining how he received hate mail and how he was ‘hounded’ by the media for interviews,” she said.
Packer’s younger sister, Kimberly Rice, wrote a letter asking the judge to be lenient. She said her brother’s sweatshirt “could be considered in bad taste” but added that “freedom of expression” is not a crime.
Prosecutors had recommended a sentence of 75 days in prison and 36 months of probation. Brainwald sought a probationary sentence without jail time.
FBI agents arrested Packer a week after the riot. He remained free while awaiting his sentence.
Packer is a self employed pipe fitter. Prosecutors say he has a long criminal record, with nearly 21 convictions, most for drunken driving and other motor vehicle violations.
More than 870 people have been charged with federal crimes for their conduct on January 6. About 400 of them have confessed to the crime, most of whom have committed the crime. More than 250 riot defendants have been sentenced, nearly half of whom have been given sentences ranging from seven days to 10 years in prison.