The Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol has led to over 1,000 people being charged with crimes in the two years since. Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the far-right Oath Keepers group, just received the longest sentence yet in connection to the insurrection.
Rhodes was convicted of seditious conspiracy in November 2022. At his sentencing earlier today, he called himself a “political prisoner,” according to NBC News. Judge Amit Mehta shared a very different view. “You are not a political prisoner, Mr. Rhodes,” he stated plainly before handing down his ruling. “You, sir, present an ongoing threat and a peril to this country and to the republic and to the very fabric of this democracy.” The Oath Keepers leader will spend 18 years in federal prison for his actions.
Prosecutors showed his guilt by producing messages that Rhodes wrote both before and after the deadly assault on the Capitol. “They won’t fear us until we come with rifles in hand,” he said prior to the riot. “On [Jan.] 6, they are going to put the final nail in the coffin of this Republic unless we fight our way out. With Trump (preferably) or without him, we have no choice.”
After the events of the fateful day transpired, he and other Oath Keepers met up at an Olive Garden in Virginia that night to debrief and celebrate their accomplishments. He shared his pride in his group’s actions with an online message. “Patriots, it was a long day but a day when patriots began to stand,” he wrote. “Stand now or kneel forever. Honor your oaths. Remember your legacy.”
Rhodes’ record-length conviction could possibly be passed up by someone else in the future. While seditious conspiracy is the most serious crime that any Jan. 6 rioters have been charged with, there are still hundreds of defendants awaiting sentencing, according to Axios.