Jan 14, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Jan. 6 rioter becomes first to be acquitted of obstruction charges

Demonstrators enter the U.S. Capitol after breaching security fencing during on Jan. 6, 2021. Photo: Graeme Sloan/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge ruled Friday that a Jan. 6 defendant who made it to the Senate chamber during the Capitol riot in order to "plead the blood of Jesus" could not be convicted of obstructing a joint session of Congress, per Politico.

Why it matters: Joshua Black is the first defendant who reached the Senate floor to be acquitted of obstruction of justice, a felony charge.

Driving the news: U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled after a weeklong bench trial that Black had a "unique stew in his mind" that made her uncertain of whether he understood that his actions were unlawful, Politico reports.

  • He was found guilty of other charges, including disorderly conduct in a restricted building while carrying a dangerous weapon (a knife).

Details: Black, of Alabama, was photographed on the Senate floor apparently bleeding from his cheek, per court documents.

  • He said in a YouTube video that he "wanted to get into the building so I could plead the blood of Jesus ... That was my goal."
  • He also admitted to carrying a knife because "you're not allowed to carry guns in D.C. and I don't like being defenseless," per the affidavit.

The big picture: In the two years since Jan. 6, 2021, more than 950 people have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, including 284 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement, per the Department of Justice.

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