WASHINGTON (AP) — A Pennsylvania woman linked to the far-right extremist movement Groyper was convicted on multiple federal charges Monday after prosecutors said she was part of a group seizing the office of the House Speaker , Nancy Pelosi, on January 6, 2021. Attack on the US Capitol.
Riley June Williams was found guilty of six federal charges, including civil disorder. But the jury was deadlocked on two other charges, including “aiding and abetting theft” of a laptop stolen from Pelosi’s office suite during the riot. The jury also failed to reach a unanimous verdict on whether Williams obstructed an official proceeding.
US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered Williams held in custody after the jury reached its verdict.
Williams joined a mob attack on the Capitol after attending the “Stop the Steal” rally where then-President Donald Trump was addressing thousands of supporters earlier that day. Entering Pelosi’s office, she found a laptop on a table and said to another rioter, “Dude, put gloves on,” before someone with a black gloved hand removed the computer, prosecutors said.
Williams later bragged online that she stole Pelosi’s hammer, laptop and hard drives and that she “gave or attempted to give the electronic equipment to unspecified Russian individuals,” prosecutors said in a June 2022 court filing.
“To date, neither the laptop nor the hammer have been recovered,” they added.
A witness, described as Williams’ former love partner, told the FBI she intended to ship the stolen laptop or hard drive to a friend in Russia, who planned to sell it to Russia’s foreign intelligence agency. However, according to an FBI agent affidavit, the witness said Williams kept the device or destroyed it when the transmission failed.
Williams, a resident of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was arrested less than two weeks after the riot. She was charged with stealing government property, assaulting police, and obstructing the joint session of Congress to confirm the Electoral College vote. Williams was also charged with misdemeanor including disorderly or disruptive conduct.
Williams denied stealing the laptop when the FBI questioned her. She claimed her ex-boyfriend “made up” the allegation, prosecutors said.
Before exiting the Capitol, Williams joined other rioters to crack down on police officers attempting to clear the building’s rotunda. Police body cameras captured the confrontation as Williams encouraged other rioters to “keep pushing” and “push, push, push.”
Williams wore a shirt that read “I’m with Groyper” as she entered the Capitol. The term “groyper” refers to supporters of America First leader Nick Fuentes, who has used his online platform to spread anti-Semitic and white racist rhetoric.
Other Fuentes supporters have been charged with Jan. 6-related crimes, including former UCLA student Christian Secor, 24, of Costa Mesa, California. Secor, who waved an “America First” flag as he entered the Capitol, was sentenced last month to three years and six months in prison.
Williams’ online footprint also contained material related to “accelerationism,” a violent ideology that claims “Western governments are corrupt and beyond salvage, and therefore the best thing a person can do is hasten their collapse by… it sows social chaos and generates political conflicts,” prosecutors said.
In December 2020, Williams attended at least two rallies to protest the outcome of the presidential election. Speeches by Fuentes were made at both rallies.
“Her admiration for Nick Fuentes, her self-identification as a ‘groyper,’ her belief in accelerationism, and her support for violence all circumstantially demonstrate the mixed motives behind her actions on January 6: She wasn’t just explicitly trying to prevent Congress from doing that to certify the electoral college to vote, but also to undermine and obstruct government more generally,” prosecutors wrote.
Before her trial, Williams’ attorneys questioned the relevance of her political activities and ideology.
“There is no evidence linking their beliefs and actions prior to January 6 to their actions on that date,” they wrote. “There is a legitimate risk that the jury will only convict Ms. Williams for the unpopular and extreme ideologies she has embraced in the past and not for the actual crimes she is charged with.”
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