On Monday, Washington DC Antifa member Jason Charter was sentenced in connection to multiple incidents that occurred in 2020, in which Charter participated in riots and attempts to tear downs statues.
Charter had received multiple federal charges in July of 2020 stemming from attempts to topple statues in the nation's capital during the summer of riots that followed George Floyd's death. He was accused of attempting to topple and destroy the statues of Albert Pike and Andrew Jackson.
The multiple counts included destruction of government property, destruction of veterans' memorials, and aiding and abetting. Charter was offered a plea agreement and plead guilty to the single misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct on restricted grounds.
Charter appeared in a video hearing on Monday, where he was sentenced to three years of probation, 60 days of home detention, orders to pay $2,600 in restitution, and mental health treatment, according to News 2 Share editor-in-chief Ford Fischer. This was substantially less than the recommended sentence.
During the hearing, the court argued on what would be an appropriate sentence for Charter. According to Fischer, "Prosecutors say they want 45 days home confinement because of 'pattern of behavior' throughout 2020, citing Albert Pike statue incident, for which charges were dropped."
Despite the judge questioning whether 45 days of home confinement would be enough of an "adequate deterrence" for Charter, federal prosecutors stated that it would be, given Charter's health.
The judge also questioned why Charter was wearing a helmet during these instances, and why he would repeatedly be "physically battered" in these riots.
"I don't think a peaceful protester gets physically battered again and again and again,' judge says, making the case that Jason Charter's physical injuries at protests are a result of a pattern of violent engagement at protests," Fischer reported.
The judge asked why Charter would be wearing a helmet that these riots, which the defense said was for Charter to protect himself from head injuries.
"Judge again seems to disagree, saying him 'preparing to be assaulted' displays intent to get into physical confrontations. The judge continued on to reportedly say that his pattern of being injured at protests means that he's 'aggressor' who 'seeks out' such encounters," wrote Fischer.
His defense argued that Charter was protected under the first amendment, and that he was only acting in defense of himself.
In a statement made by Charter during his hearing, he said that he "thought long and hard about this moment" and what he wants to say. Charter said he is "a different person" than he was in 2020. He added that he came to conclusion now that he "did break the law" but believes it was "morally justified."
Charter stated that he couldn't remember the day he and others attempted to take down the Jackson statue well due to a brain injury, but said he has he has "vivid memories" of people being "assaulted by police" following the incident, and described being fueled by frustrations over Floyd's death.
Charter also "cited Charlottesville, saying that on the day he's being sentenced for, he tried to block traffic to prevent vehicular injuries," according to Fischer. Charter reportedly said that following the events in Charlottesville, he made a "promise to [himself] that "everyone comes home safely" when he attends events, noting that "this drive to ensure safety for others" drove him into dangerous situations.
"I was just trying to make a safe situation for everyone," said Charter. "I was assaulted by a police officer as I attempted to help someone up who had fallen."
Charter also mentioned January 6 and how it would be flawed to compare his activities to those of the rioters on that day because he never attempted to "take over the White House," according to Fischer.
"I don't believe a violent takeover of this country is ever needed," Charter said noting that that he used "creative, non-violent actions" instead.
Charter stated "I believe that I can be a productive member of society as I have been in the past," noting that he has had to turn down job offers due to the pending court case against him.
Charter concluded by stating that the Andrew Jackson statue "belongs in a museum" and that he would now "go through the proper channels to get these things done." He cited plans to reach out to members of Congress to achieve that goal through legislation.
Following Charter's statement, the judge said that "There's a line that he crossed here in this case."
"His remorse seems genuine" she said, noting that she believes Charter now "believes in the rule of law."
"At least now he's gotten that message," she said, but added that he did not understand that "at the time of the offense."
Defense had asked for a sentence that included no home confinement, one year of probation that took into account the a year and a half pre-trial supervised release, restitution, and community service.
US Attorney Matthew Graves recommended that the court sentence Charter to 30 hours of community service, three years of probation, 45 days of home detention, a $500 fine, and a $2,600 restitution payment to the Treasury, according to court documents.
Speaking with News 2 Share following the sentencing, Charter said he found it "appalling" that his "actions as an activist" were seen as being "aggressive."
"I found it appalling to be told that my actions as an activist were aggressive and that's why I have received all these injuries over time. My drive has never been aggressive. It's been about protection of my community, my friends, and after watching Heather Heyer die in Charlottesville and my friend trying to do life saving CPR on her, to no avail unfortunately. To see an act like what happened in Charlottesville when James Fields rammed a car into us, that sticks with you forever," said Charter, who noted that he was surprised he received no probation time.
"And that made me decide that day that never again," said Charter, who noted the numerous causes he fight for: "everything that makes this system that we live in, so unbearable for most people who are not sis white men. I want to create a world that is for everyone. And I want to do it without losing anyone else."
"So yeah, when there was a dangerous situation, I would try to get my people out and that would sometimes get me hit by a fascist or someone else. But to say that I'm the aggressor is just it's just plain not true. For you filmed videos of me over the years yourself so many times of me being harmed by fascists, and by police, I'm not the aggressor, like Judge Friedrich claimed," Charter concluded.
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