Anthony Robert Williams, a Michigan man in his 40s who participated in last year’s Trump-incited attack on the Capitol and was one of the first rioters inside the building that day, where he filmed himself taking part, was sentenced to five years in prison.
At a jury trial in June, Williams was found guilty of an array of criminal offenses connected to his actions at the Capitol, including obstruction of an official proceeding, which is a felony that carries up to 20 years in prison if found guilty and has repeatedly shown up in Capitol riot-related cases. He also faced four misdemeanors. A level of intent is evidently required, according to current legal standards, before a defendant is found guilty of the obstruction offense, and Williams clearly posted his intentions on social media in the lead-up to the riot. Williams specifically said he would be heading to D.C., where he intended to “storm the swamp,” according to the Justice Department’s telling. At certain points, he also used social media hashtags like “#HOLDTHELINE” and another calling for “no retreat” and “no surrender,” which are again pretty straightforward, as they indicate a level of interest in participating in an obstructive fight.
Williams entered the Senate Wing Door some five minutes after rioters made their first breach of the building, which was through that door. Williams spent a while — about an hour — inside the Capitol, moving through the Crypt and Rotunda. Although the Justice Department notes that Williams helped maintain rioters’ position in the Rotunda as officers tried to get the mob participants away from the area, he evidently didn’t directly engage in physical confrontations with law enforcement that reached the point prosecutors felt a charge of assault would be fitting. Days after the riot, Williams was already bragging, which factored into his sentencing. “Was proudest day of my life lol felt like the founding fathers were smiling down on us in that room, and I guarantee my dad and gramps, both vets, would be proud,” Williams posted on January 9, 2021. Months later, he was still at it, even with the sprawling criminal investigation at the Justice Department into the day’s events fully in motion.
“I was in the Capitol and have absolutely no remorse or fear in saying or doing it,” he said in April of last year. He eventually expressed some level of remorse much later on. Prosecutors’ sentencing memo pointed to Williams’s documented lack of comprehensive regret. “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,” the memo says. Prosecutors requested 64 months, which works out to a little over five years. Williams’s sentencing was handled by federal Judge Beryl Howell.
Image: Tyler Merbler/ Creative Commons