The leader of the American militia “Oath Crosses” pleads not guilty of trying to start a rebellion by storming the Capitol last year. Stewart Rhodes made his first court appearance Friday after he and ten militiamen faced the harshest charges yet for the break-in. Rhodes was arrested yesterday in Texas.
Of the more than 700 people arrested for their roles on January 6, 2021, the majority were prosecuted for minor offenses such as conspiracy or public assault. If the judge agrees to the charges against Rhodes, he could face 20 years in prison.
It is rare for US prosecutors to try a person for sedition. The last time this happened was in 2010, when indictments were filed against Michigan militia members. The judge then ruled that their rants against the US government fell under freedom of expression.
One of the last times anyone was convicted of this crime was in the 1950s, when nationalists from the island of Puerto Rico opened fire on the United States Congress.
In 2009, the 56-year-old Rhodes founded the far-right Oath Guards, a militia made up primarily of (former) soldiers and police officers. Motivated by President Trump’s unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud, the group sought on January 6 to prevent Congress from officially declaring Biden the election winner.
According to OM, the division’s guards prepared their turn for the storm as if they were going to take part in a war. For example, plans for the attack on the Capitol were drawn up and weapons were purchased. On that day, Rhodes did not set foot in the building, but a group of his companions entered.
During the trial, Rhodes requested that he be allowed to freely await trial, but the judge ruled that he remains in prison for the time being.
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