A Capitol riot defendant who traveled to D.C. on Jan. 6 with his mother and stormed the U.S. Capitol while wearing a ”(F**k) Your Feelings” sweatshirt was sentenced to 30 days behind bars on Wednesday.
Russell James Peterson was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who imposed a sentence more than twice as long as the two weeks of incarceration requested by federal prosecutors. Jackson said that Peterson’s own words, in which Peterson bragged about his conduct on Jan. 6, had led to her decision. She particularly focused on his comment that he “had fun lol” on Jan. 6.
“The ‘lol’ particularly stuck in my craw, because as I have hope you’ve come to understand, nothing about Jan. 6 was funny,” Jackson said. Officers were injured, people lost their lives, property was damaged and stolen, Jackson said.
“It was sickening, it was horrifying, and it was utterly inconsistent with what this country stands for, and I’m concerned that there’s an ongoing harm to what our democracy is supposed to be,” Jackson said, “and we don’t know if it’s replicable or not, because we really don’t know yet if things will return to the way they were, or if a disorderly, violent reaction to elections is now an acceptable option to a large segment of the population.”
Jackson said she sympathized with Peterson’s time in the foster system and noted he had a difficult life. While it was not her role to judge Peterson’s life, she said he had overcome some difficult obstacles and had some admirable traits.
Peterson, in a letter to Jackson, wrote that he was “embarrassed and ashamed” of his conduct. In court, he apologized for his actions and said he wanted to “bear my cross and pay for my debt.”
“He is shameful of his behavior and has been very remorseful,” his attorney Danielle Jahn told the judge. Jahn said he engaged in bravado on social media, falsely claiming that he “smoked a blunt” in the Capitol.
“He did not smoke a blunt in the Capitol,” Jahn said. Like former President Donald Trump, she says, Peterson lied on social media.
The FBI has arrested more than 675 people in connection with the Jan. 6 attack, a figure that represents about one-fourth of the total number of individuals who engaged in chargeable criminal conduct that day, either by unlawfully entering the Capitol building or by engaging in violence outside the building. The FBI is still looking for more than 350 members of the pro-Trump mob who engaged in violence, including more than 250 still wanted for assaulting law enforcement.
Jackson said that Peterson, unlike many Jan. 6 defendants and participants in the Capitol attack, had actually reflected on his actions and made changes.
“A lot of people haven’t learned anything,” Jackson said.