From 'Political Prisoner' to Convicted Conspirator: Oath Keepers' Rhodes Sentenced to 18 Years
Staunton, VA - Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the far-right group known as the Oath Keepers, has been sentenced to 18 years in federal prison, marking the lengthiest sentence yet in connection with the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Rhodes, who was convicted of seditious conspiracy in November 2022, was handed down this extensive sentence earlier today.
Rhodes deemed himself a "political prisoner" during his sentencing, a claim that Judge Amit Mehta firmly refuted. "You are not a political prisoner, Mr. Rhodes," Judge Mehta declared, as per NBC News. The Judge went on to note Rhodes' considerable threat to the nation's democracy, stating, “You, sir, present an ongoing threat and a peril to this country and to the republic and to the very fabric of this democracy.”
The prosecution successfully demonstrated Rhodes' guilt using a series of messages he authored both before and after the insurrection. A chilling remark from Rhodes prior to the riot read, “They won’t fear us until we come with rifles in hand,” and he also claimed, "On [Jan.] 6, they are going to put the final nail in the coffin of this Republic unless we fight our way out. With Trump (preferably) or without him, we have no choice.”
Following the chaotic events of the day, Rhodes and his fellow Oath Keepers congregated at a Virginia Olive Garden, where they reportedly reflected on and lauded their actions. Rhodes shared an online message expressing his pride in what they had achieved: “Patriots, it was a long day but a day when patriots began to stand. Stand now or kneel forever. Honor your oaths. Remember your legacy.”
While Rhodes' sentencing marks a significant milestone in the ongoing proceedings related to the Capitol attack, hundreds of defendants are still awaiting sentencing. Seditious conspiracy stands as the gravest charge brought against any Jan. 6 rioters, and according to Axios, Rhodes' record sentence may yet be surpassed as these cases continue to unfold.