Most January 6 defendants (who are mostly white) are getting off easy

By | May 21, 2023

Rolling Stone reports:

The first time Gina Bisignano ran afoul of the law in Washington, D.C., she was recorded standing on a ledge in front of a broken window on the U.S. Capitol Building’s West Terrace, adorned in a Louis Vuitton sweater and Chanel boots. “We the people are not going to take it anymore. You are not going to take away our Trumpy Bear!” the Beverly Hills cosmetologist bellowed through a bullhorn on Jan. 6.

“Everybody, we need gas masks. We need weapons. We need strong, angry patriots to help our boys, they don’t want to leave. We need protection,” she yelled, her mascara running from tear gas.

Two years and multiple criminal charges later, Bisignano returned to Washington on March 1 of this year — and promptly ran afoul of the law again. Bisignano’s return journey to D.C. involved a deal she struck with prosecutors in which she pleaded guilty to four misdemeanors and two felonies and agreed to cooperate with investigators and the Department of Justice in return for special considerations at sentencing.

Nominally in D.C. to testify against a former associate, Bisignano took a detour to a vigil held near the jail where several dozen alleged insurrectionists were awaiting their trials. There, she shared details of her testimony in an ongoing trial, spoke with a convicted Jan. 6 felon, and admitted to hanging out with other Jan. 6 participants.

All of these were violations of the terms of her pre-trial release, and all of them — again — were caught on camera. But despite her Jan. 6 actions and her pre-trial agreement violations, Bisignano is not in jail. Instead, she’s on a particularly lenient version of house arrest as she awaits trial after withdrawing her guilty plea for felony obstruction of an official proceeding. She has already pleaded guilty to six counts, including felony civil disorder, and awaits sentencing after her felony trial concludes.

The supposed unjust treatment and persecution of Jan. 6 participants has become core to the prevailing conservative counter-narrative around the violent riot, an account that characterizes the participants as “political prisoners.” But contrary to the claims of heavy-handed political persecution, cases like Bisignano show how, in some instances, the legal system has afforded Jan. 6 defendants a far more judicious process than standard federal criminal defendants. And indeed, many experts believe the insurrectionists have been given far softer treatment than one might expect for attempting to storm the Capitol to block the certification of a presidential election. [Continue reading…]