Washington (AFP) – US prosecutors are demanding 51 months behind bars for the self-proclaimed “shaman” who joined the January 6 assault on the Capitol building wearing a horned buffalo headdress, court documents revealed.
Jacob Chansley, whose painted face, bare chest and horned headgear made him an icon of the attack on the Capitol in a bid to stop the election results being validated, was arrested days after the storming of the seat of the US government.
Facing as much as 20 years behind bars, Chansley, who became known as the “QAnon shaman” after a conspiracy-theory website popular on the far-right, pleaded guilty to unlawful trespassing and violent conduct in early September in federal court in Washington.
His lawyer, citing his client’s “sincere remorse,” his psychological problems and the 317 days already spent in custody, appealed to the “court’s compassion” to impose a sentence “significantly below the range” set out in federal guidelines.
Carrying a US flag fastened to a six-foot spear and sporting numerous tattoos on his bare torso, Chansley, from Phoenix, Arizona, participated in the invasion of Congress with thousands of supporters of then-president Donald Trump to prevent elected officials from validating the victory of Democrat Joe Biden in the presidential election.
Another assailant, Scott Fairlamb of New Jersey, was sentenced Wednesday to 41 months in prison for his part in the attack and for assaulting a police officer, the most severe sentence so far against the some 660 people indicted for the attack. Fairlamb pleaded guilty in August.
But to explain its case against Chansley, the prosecution said in documents released late Tuesday that long before the events of January 6, he had gone on social media “to spread the type of false information and hateful rhetoric that led thousands of rioters to descend on the US Capitol.”
“The government cannot overstate the seriousness of the defendant’s conduct as a one of the most prominent figures of the historic riot on the Capitol on January 6, 2021,” the prosecution said.
A total of 658 people have been charged to varying degrees for their participation in the deadly assault, according to the Program on Extremism research center at George Washington University.
Five people died during or shortly after the attack, including a police officer and a female protester killed by an officer inside the building. In addition, two police officers committed suicide in the days and weeks that followed, without a direct link being established.