Former Oath Keepers Leader Sentenced to 18 Years in Prison
Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the far-right Oath Keepers militia, was sentenced to 18 years in prison for seditious conspiracy in connection with the U.S. Capitol attack on January 6, 2021. The sentence is the longest so far for anyone charged in relation to the attack. Rhodes was also convicted of obstructing an official proceeding and tampering with documents. He gave a defiant speech before his sentencing and likened himself to Soviet dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, but Judge Amit Mehta rejected the notion of Rhodes being a political prisoner.
Co-defendant Kelly Meggs, also convicted of seditious conspiracy, was set to be sentenced on the same day. Five law enforcement officers who defended the Capitol and other survivors addressed the court on the day before the sentencing hearings. They recounted their experiences of being attacked and threatened during the violent attack on the Capitol.
Rhodes founded the Oath Keepers in 2009, and the group’s members include current and retired U.S. military personnel, law enforcement officers, and first responders. They have been known to attend protests and political events while heavily armed, including racial justice demonstrations. Some of the Oath Keepers breached the Capitol in paramilitary gear, while others staged at a suburban hotel with firearms that could be easily transported into Washington.
Two other associates of the Oath Keepers, Jessica Watkins and Kenneth Harrelson, are due to be sentenced on the following day. They were acquitted of seditious conspiracy but convicted of other felony charges. Four members convicted of seditious conspiracy in a second trial are also due to be sentenced the following week. Thomas Caldwell, another co-defendant, had his sentencing hearing postponed.
Former Proud Boys national chairman Enrique Tarrio was also recently convicted of seditious conspiracy in a separate plot to block the transfer of presidential power. The Proud Boys are scheduled to be sentenced in August and September alongside other leaders of the far-right group.