Federal Judge Blocks Tennessee Judge’s Order to Release ‘Zip Tie Guy’ Charged in Capitol Riot

Illustration for article titled Federal Judge Blocks Tennessee Judge’s Order to Release ‘Zip Tie Guy’ Charged in Capitol Riot
Photo: Win McNamee (Getty Images)

You can tell that America still isn’t quite used to the idea that white Americans can be and often are terrorists. For so long, the face of terrorism in the minds of many Americans was a scary Muslim face. (Scary to white people. Black people often have so many Muslims in the family that when we hear white folks making Islam out to be synonymous with terrorism we’re ready to square up on behalf of our favorite cousin.)

The Capitol rioters were terrorists. If they were melanin-enriched Muslims instead of hue-deficient MAGAts, America would be far less hesitant to call them terrorists, and if a judge was willing to set free a person charged with what should be unequivocally viewed as an act of terrorism, America wouldn’t be having it.

So why did a federal judge need to block the order of a Tennessee judge concerning the release of Eric Munchel?

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Munchel—who social media has dubbed “zip tie guy,” because when you’re white and a terrorist you get cutesy nicknames that could also be applied to regular Home Depot shoppers—is one of two rioters who were spotted carrying zip ties, which are really flexible plastic handcuffs, during the whiney wypipo rebellion on Jan 6. An FBI search of Munchel’s home turned up the tactical gear he wore during the riot, five pairs of plastic handcuffs, and an arsenal of weapons—which included a sniper rifle, according to USA Today—that would put your average gamer’s Grand Theft Auto inventory to shame. That would be frightening AF if Munchel were the right kind of terrorist, but the Tennessee judge didn’t see it that way.

From CBS News:

A federal judge on Sunday blocked the release of a Tennessee man authorities say carried flexible plastic handcuffs during the riot at the U.S. Capitol. U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell for the District of Columbia also ordered that he be brought to Washington for further proceedings.

Howell set aside an order issued Friday by a judge in Tennessee concerning the release of Eric Munchel, of Nashville, that cleared the way for Munchel’s release as early as Monday. Howell stayed the lower court’s order pending a review.

After testimony at a detention hearing Friday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Frensley for the Middle District of Tennessee determined that Munchel wasn’t a flight risk and didn’t pose harm to the public.

Federal prosecutors have argued that Munchel’s offenses are serious enough to detain him pending trial to ensure the community’s safety.

I mean, I get it. Sure Munchel—who is charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct on the Capitol grounds and faces up to 20 years if convicted—allegedly engaged in an effort to overthrow the government and it turned out that his house and Rambo’s house are virtually indistinguishable, but that doesn’t make him a potential threat to the public. And the zip ties? Oh, come on! Who doesn’t pack plastic handcuffs in preparation for a peaceful protest? Maybe his plan was to bind himself to the American flag in a patriotic demonstration of “this land is my land” energy. It’s not like there’s significant evidence that some rioters were planning to capture and assassinate elected officials or anything.

I suppose it’s no harm no foul since the order that would have set Munchel free was ultimately blocked. It’s not like we’re a nation full of potential domestic terrorists who could be treated with leniency because they possess the complexion for America’s protection.

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No worries, amirite?

Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons

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