A Florida man became the first person sentenced on felony charges as a result of the Capitol riot on Monday.
The Associated Press reports Paul Allard Hodgkins, 38, pleaded guilty last month to a count of obstructing an official proceeding as part of an agreement with prosecutors in exchange for several lesser charges being dropped. Hodgkins was one of the many people photographed on the Senate floor during the events of Jan. 6. Hodgkins read a statement before the court expressing regret for what he did.
“If I had any idea that the protest...would escalate (the way) it did...I would never have ventured farther than the sidewalk of Pennsylvania Avenue,” Hodgkins told the judge. He added: “This was a foolish decision on my part.”
The charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and prosecutors argued that Hodgkins should be sentenced to 18 months. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mona Sedky said that while he may not have engaged in some of the more egregious behavior seen on Jan. 6, he played a part in “the ransacking of the People’s House.”
Attorneys for Hodgkins argued he should be given leniency, saying that the “shame” he’ll have to carry as being part of the Capitol riot will be something he’ll have to live with. Considering the former President—the man whose lies essentially led to the riot—received a warm welcome at a recent UFC event, I’m not too sure the whole “shame” thing is going to be much of a factor in Hodgkins life.
In fact, I wouldn’t doubt if there are some who see what he did as something to be respected and celebrated.
Judge Randolph Moss said that Hodgkins was an accessory to one of the most shameful incidents in American history. “That was not, by any stretch of the imagination, a protest,” Moss said. “It was … an assault on democracy.” He added: “It left a stain that will remain on us … on the country for years to come.” Despite all that weighty language, Moss only sentenced Hodgkins to eight months.
Not even a full year.
So Black people can spend decades in prison over non-violent drug crimes, but when it comes to white men who try to undermine democracy and endanger countless people, eh, eight months is good enough.
While the Capitol riot was a failed insurrection, so far it’s been a successful case study in how whiteness works. A white supremacist who was previously convicted of attempted murder was sentenced to time served for his part in the Capitol riot. I guess it’s time to add “attempt to overthrow the republic,” to the list of things white people can get away with.