(Washington) A far-right activist from Texas appeared in a Washington court on Wednesday in the first trial of an assailant against Congress on January 6, 2021, a day of chaos that had shaken American democracy.
Guy Reffitt, 49, is accused of having tried to force the entrance to the Capitol with hundreds of other demonstrators, when elected officials certified the victory of Democrat Joe Biden in the presidential election.
He had made it to the top of the steps of the building, but had retreated after being sprayed with pepper spray by the police defending the building.
Photos show him, helmet on his head and wearing a bulletproof vest, on the steps of the Capitol cleaning his eyes.
Aggravating circumstances, he would have carried a handgun during the clashes and on his return to Wylie, near Dallas, he would have threatened to kill his two children who had denounced him to the police.
Guy Reffitt, who pleads not guilty, faces up to 20 years in prison at the end of this trial which must last at least a week.
According to the prosecution, this member of the far-right militia “Three Percenters” intended to demonstrate violently on January 6 in Washington, where thousands of supporters of Donald Trump had gathered at the call of the Republican president .
“A crowd needs leaders and this man came straight from Texas to fill this role”, denounced the prosecutor Jeffrey Nestler at the opening of the proceedings.
Several hundred supporters of the Republican billionaire, crying fraud during the November 2020 ballot, forced their way into the Capitol.
Five police officers and a protester died in connection with the assault, and 140 officers were injured.
The accused’s two children must testify to confirm that they were threatened.
Their father, the prosecution claims, told them that he had participated in the attack, that they would be “traitors” if they reported him to the police and that “traitors are killed”.
The verdict of this trial will be scrutinized with a magnifying glass in view of the record number of arrests and indictments in this investigation of historic magnitude and which continues more than a year after the facts.
More than 750 people were arrested and the majority were charged, for more or less heavy charges. In order to avoid a trial, 218 defendants pleaded guilty and about 70 of them were sentenced in federal courts.
The heaviest sentence so far has been five years in prison.