A Michigan man counted among the first to enter the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 — in what he dubbed “Operation Swamp Storm” — will spend five years behind bars, a federal judge ruled on Friday.
Anthony Robert Williams, 47, boasted that he had “absolutely no remorse” in a Facebook post months after the siege. Williams is now a convicted felon, after a federal jury found him guilty of obstructing an official proceeding and four misdemeanors.
Court papers are filled with his enthusiastic participation in the riot. He posted hashtags such as #HOLDTHELINE and #NORETREATNOSURRENDER.
Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell gave Williams significant time to consider those comments and conduct, sending him to prison for half a decade, roughly the term the government requested.
Like many of those charged in connection with Jan. 6, Williams captured himself in the act of committing his crimes.
“Williams recorded himself on those stairs and bragged, ‘We just stormed the stairs of the Capitol, pushed the cops back and were maced and pepper-sprayed, and hit everybody. Fuck that, we took this fucking building,'” the sentencing memo states. “He then stole water bottles United States Capitol Police (USCP) officials had stored on the Upper West Terrace of the Capitol building to be used for decontamination if USCP officers were hit with chemical irritants.”
Prosecutors say Williams was also part of the mob of rioters who overran police in the Crypt.
“After entering the Capitol, Williams proceeded to the Crypt, which is also on the first floor of the building,” the sentencing memo states. “He recorded his path to the Crypt as rioters beat on doors, and chanted ‘traitor,’ ‘whose house? Our house!,’ and ‘USA.'”
After rioters briefly halted the certification of Joe Biden’s victory, Williams captured himself reveling with others in the mob, taping himself proclaiming “we took this fucking building” and “you gotta do whatchu [sic] gotta do when shit gets fucking desperate.'”
“Desperate times, desperate measures …Trump 2020 motherfucker,” he added.
One of the factors judges weigh at sentencing is known as specific deterrence, the legal term for punishment preventing a defendant from committing his offense again. Here, Williams’s avowed remorselessness came back to haunt him.
“Williams’s own statements in social media that he had no remorse demonstrates that his sentence must be sufficient to provide specific deterrence from committing future crimes,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony L. Franks wrote.
His attorney Benton Marin, a Federal Community Defender, pointed to his client’s about-face before trial.
“He explained at trial, ‘looking back on it now, I do have remorse that people were injured, that there was loss of life, that some of the property was destroyed, and about how it created further divisions in our country between the parties,'” the defense memo said.
But the prosecutor urged the judge to discount that testimony as a belated, self-interested conversion.
“It was not until trial when Williams first claimed that he was remorseful for his conduct on January 6. That show of remorse came only when Williams, faced with overwhelming evidence of his guilt, had no choice but to confess during his trial testimony some of his criminal conduct on January 6; this Court should give it little weight now.”
Williams was arrested on March 26, 2021, in Detroit.
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