WASHINGTON (AP) — An Arkansas man who propped his feet up on a desk in then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office testified Thursday that he was “going with the flow,” making him one of the most memorable people to take photos. The US Capitol riot two years ago.
During his trial on riot-related charges, Richard “Bigo” Barnett said he was looking for a bathroom in the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, when he accidentally walked into Pelosi’s office and encountered two news photographers. One of the photographers told him to “act natural,” so he sat back in a chair and put his feet up on the table.
“You know what you’re doing might cause a little trouble?” defense attorney Joseph McBride asked Barnett.
“I was in the moment,” Barnett replied. “I just go with the flow at this point.”
Prosecutor Michael Gordon showed Barnett an online post in which he described anyone who “supports the Constitution” as an enemy. When asked how familiar he was with the document, Barnett ultimately admitted that he was familiar with the First and Second Amendments, but had little knowledge of the others.
Barnett, a retired firefighter from Gravette, Arkansas, is one of more than 900 people charged with federal crimes for their conduct at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Barnett is one of several dozen Capitol riot defendants whose cases have gone to trial.
Barnett’s trial was held in the same court as two other high-profile trials stemming from the riots. Jurors begin deliberating on conspiracy charges against members of a second far-right jury. Meanwhile, a documentary filmmaker testified in the conspiracy case against former Pride Boys chairman Enrique Tario and four associates.
In Barnett’s filing, the 62-year-old said the gun was tucked into his pants during the storming of the Capitol, Pelosi’s office, and taking one of the iconic images of the attack. He also took a piece of her mail and left a note that read, “Nancy, Bigo was here,” prosecutors said. Barnett caps the message with a sexually suggestive sign.
Before leaving the Capitol grounds, Barnett used a bullhorn to shout, “We’re taking back Nancy Pelosi’s office!” He was speaking to the people. As a prosecutor.
Barnett said he regrets coming to Washington for a “Stop Theft” speech by then-President Donald Trump to a crowd of supporters near the end of his trial.
“Two years of life lost. Suffering for my family,” he said.
He also expressed regret for using profanity in his memo to Pelosi.
“Maybe I shouldn’t have put my foot on the table,” Barnett said.
Asked if Gordon regretted entering the Capitol, Barnett said he was taken with the crowd.
“I was pushed and I don’t regret it,” he said.
He indicted Barnett on eight counts, including felony counts of civil disorder and obstruction of public process. He also faces a charge of entering and remaining in a prohibited building or premises in possession of a deadly or dangerous weapon.
In opening statements for the trial, a prosecutor said Tuesday that Barnett planned the trip for weeks and prepared for the violence.
“The defendant violated that position,” said prosecutor Alison Prout.
McBride told jurors Wednesday that Barnett was a “crazy man from Arkansas” who didn’t hurt anyone on Jan. 6 and couldn’t have hurt anyone with the stun gun because it was broken that day.
“We’re not asking you to approve the action,” McBride said, calling it “the most famous wrongdoing case of all time.”
Barnett said Trump supporters who left the rally were in an upbeat mood as they approached the Capitol. He said he was angry when he heard loud noises and saw police who appeared to be firing tear gas into the crowd.
“It turned my world upside down,” Barnett said of his first experience with police brutality after years as a firefighter.
Barnett said the crowd pushed him toward the Capitol as he approached the entrance, causing him to briefly fall to his knees as he crossed the street.
“We have no choice!” He shouted repeatedly in the video as he entered the Capitol.
Barnett asked if he knew where one of the photographers was, and he said he didn’t realize he had entered Pelosi’s office until he saw the empty envelopes with Pelosi’s name on them.
After police ordered him and others to leave Pelosi’s office, Barnett realized he had left the American flag behind. Body camera video captured Barnett yelling at a Rotunda police officer to help him retrieve the flag.
Prosecutors said Barnett had a history of arming himself at political rallies before the Jan. 6 attack. In the year In July 2020, a 911 caller reported that a man matching Barnett’s description pointed a gun at her at a “Back the Blue” rally.
“Due to apparent discrepancies in the evidence, law enforcement ultimately closed the investigation,” prosecutors wrote.
In the year In November 2020, police were called to a “Save the Children” rally after a caller reported that Barnett had a gun at the protest and was acting suspiciously.
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