Capitol rioting: Hairdresser tied to QAnon to be imprisoned

Dona Sue Bissey, like many Donald Trump supporters who stormed into the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6, promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory via social media. However, the judge sentenced her Tuesday to 14-day imprisonment for her actions and not her beliefs.

Capitol rioting: Hairdresser tied to QAnon to be imprisoned

In July, Bissey, 53 years old, pleaded guilty to parading and demonstrating in a Capitol Building, a misdemeanor that can lead to a maximum six-month sentence.

Prosecutors argue that statements made by rioters, whether they are on the ground or via social media, should be taken into account when crafting a sentence. On Tuesday, the federal prosecutor cited Bissey’s support online for QAnon as well as other conspiracy theories. They also said that Bissey's case was "rare" and they recommended probation over home detention or prison. This was due to her cooperation with law enforcement and early acceptance of responsibility.

Instead, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan sentenced her to 14-days incarceration with 60 hours community service. She stressed that she did this because Bissey had celebrated her participation in what amounts to an attempt overthrow of government.

"The fact she subscribes bizarre conspiracy theories is her right. Chutkan stated that she is allowed to do this as an American.

Two far-right extremist groups are facing the most serious criminal charges arising out of the extensive investigation. They are the Proud Boys (leaders) and Oath Keepers (members). Some were charged with conspiring to attack the Capitol in coordinated attacks that prevented Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s electoral victory.

Several QAnon followers played prominent roles during the riot. The conspiracy theory seemed to have galvanized many others who joined with the mob. Experts warned that there was a rising threat of violence from disinformation and conspiracy theories, such as QAnon, and its predecessor, the conspiracy dubbed "pizzagate".

Joshua Rothstein, a Justice Department prosecutor, said that Bissey is an avid consumer and fan of conspiracy theories. These include the idea that the coronavirus pandemic is a hoax and that the COVID-19 vaccination is part of a Jewish plot for murder. During the London Olympics opening ceremony, she believed that the pandemic had been foreshadowed through "predictive programming".

"It's one thing believing in conspiracy theories in your basement. He said, "It's quite another to actually act on them."

More than 630 people were charged with federal crimes in connection to the riot. According to an Associated Press review, at least 27 federal defendants have been connected to QAnon by federal authorities, usually through social media posts and clothes worn at the Capitol.

Capitol rioters are due to make the top 100 in guilty pleas this week. So far, at least nine QAnon-connected defendants pleaded guilty. Two of them were sentenced on probation, before Bissey was sentenced as the 15th rioter.

Around 70 of the defendants in the Jan. 6 attack were arrested while they awaited trial. According to the AP's review, at least 21 of them have been linked to far-right extremist movements or groups, including six QAnon supporters.

QAnon supporters believe that Trump was secretly fighting a Satan worshipping, child sex trafficking cabal made up of prominent Democrats, Hollywood elites, and enemies of the "deep state". Pizzagate was based on the absurd belief that Democrats were operating a child sex ring from a pizza shop. In June, a federal intelligence report predicted that some "digital soldiers", in the QAnon movement, could resort to "real-world violence" as they lose faith in the conspiracy theory's prophecies.

Jan. 6 was a good day to identify QAnon supporters. They wore clothing or toted signs with a distinctive "Q" and a shirtless, skin-painted man wore a furry hat that had horns. He called himself the "QAnon Shaman", one of the most recognizable rioters.

According to Bissey's lawyer, she sought refuge in "constant diet of cable news" and "Facebook-scrolling" as a distraction from financial worries that plagued her during the COVID-19 epidemic. According to the lawyer, Bissey traveled to Washington with a friend Anna Morgan-Lloyd to attend Trump's Jan. 6 rally. They only joined the mob when Trump "wrapped up their inciting calls to actions."

The defense lawyer wrote that even though this belief was debunked, Ms. Bissey was still convinced that the claims of election interference were true on January 6.

Bissey was held for two days following her February arrest. Bissey wrote to the judge that some of her neighbors from Bloomfield, Indiana had shunned Bissey since the riot. She described herself as a "God-fearing, country loving and law abiding patriot."

She wrote, "I am not and have never been a violent person."

Some QAnon-linked defendants face significant prison time. According to a prosecutor, Arizona resident Jacob Chansley could face a 41-51 month sentence for pleading guilty to a felony.

Iowa resident Douglas Jensen was accused of being a "religious" member of QAnon. He faces a maximum sentence in prison of 20 years if convicted. Jensen's encounter with the Capitol police officer was caught on video. He was released from pretrial detention, but was again jailed for violating his release terms.

Scott Fairlamb from New Jersey, who pleaded guilty to assaulting a policeman in August, is also facing possible imprisonment. He is due to be sentenced next month. According to prosecutors, Fairlamb was a QAnon believer and promoted the false claim that Trump would be the first president in the "new Republic" of March 4, 2021.

In another riot case, a prosecutor cited QAnon use by a Californian man to argue that he was dangerous and should have him detained before trial.

"The defendant wasn't just sitting in his basement, absorbing this material. "He is acting on it. He amplifies it and rebroadcasts it," Assistant U.S. attorney Andrew Bosse stated during the February 12 detention hearing for Eduardo Nicolas Alvear Gonzalez.

Rodolfo Cejas, defense attorney, said that Gonzalez was allowed to post conspiracy theories online.

"Unfortunately, people can believe the earth is flat. That's not a crime. Some people don't believe anyone ever went to the moon. He said that it was not a crime.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden sent Eliel Rosa to one-year probation and 100 hours community service as punishment for participating in the riot. The prosecution had recommended that Eliel Rosa be placed in home confinement for one month and that he do 60 hours of community work.

You need to login to comment.

Please register or login.