Journalist Sentenced to Prison Time for ‘Speech Crimes’ Related to January 6

Right-wing journalist Jonathon Owen Shroyer has been sentenced to a 60-day prison term for what some are characterizing as ‘speech-related offenses.’ These charges against Shroyer are linked to incidents that unfolded on January 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) alleged that Shroyer knowingly entered or remained in a restricted area without lawful authorization and engaged in violent entry and disorderly conduct on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol.

Shroyer, a talk-show host based in Texas associated with the Infowars conspiracy website, has been a vocal critic of the 2020 Presidential Election outcome. In the days leading up to January 6, he made several public statements suggesting the need for action against the certification of the Electoral College results.

Footage from Infowars depicted Shroyer rallying crowds with chants such as “1776!” and asserting that Americans were prepared to take action to restore and safeguard the republic.

On the day of the Capitol breach, Shroyer was observed leading a group towards the Capitol building. Video recordings and photographs placed him within the restricted area of the U.S. Capitol on both the west and east sides. However, it’s important to note that Shroyer was not linked to any acts of violence or vandalism inside the Capitol. Nevertheless, his presence in the restricted area and his prior statements have been crucial to the case against him due to his prior conduct.

In December 2019, Shroyer was arrested for disrupting a House Judiciary Committee meeting. In February 2020, he entered into a Community Service Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA), which included conditions prohibiting him from entering the U.S. Capitol and its grounds. This DPA was still in effect on January 6, 2021.

Shroyer’s defense contended that he was present at the Capitol in his role as a journalist, covering a significant event. They argued that his statements, though provocative, fell within the boundaries of protected speech. The defense also emphasized Shroyer’s cooperation with authorities since the charges were filed, including voluntarily providing his phones as evidence and participating in a proffer session with federal agents.

However, the prosecution framed Shroyer’s actions as extending beyond journalism, asserting that his speeches and calls for action contributed to the atmosphere that led to the Capitol breach. His violation of a prior court order, prohibiting him from entering Capitol Grounds due to a deferred prosecution agreement from a previous case, further complicated his legal position.

Last week, the DOJ recommended a 120-day prison sentence for Shroyer. They claimed that in the months leading up to January 6, Shroyer disseminated false information about the election to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of viewers. They cited instances where he warned that if Joe Biden became president, there would not be “a million peaceful marchers in D.C.”

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While Shroyer did not physically enter the Capitol building, the DOJ argued that his influence was apparent, as many of those who listened to him did participate in the events. After the events, Shroyer attributed the blame to “Antifa” and expressed pride in the occurrences of that day. The DOJ’s memorandum contended that “Shroyer played a role in the events of January 6.”

In the weeks leading up to January 6, according to the DOJ, Shroyer’s rhetoric became increasingly intense. He addressed crowds in Washington, D.C., urging them to fight for Trump and declaring that “we are the new revolution.” On January 5, he expressed concerns about the implications if the election certification was not halted, stating that Americans were ready to take action.

By Melinda Davies
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