A 58-year-old Black man, who has so far received the longest sentence in connection with the January 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol, alleged racist treatment and compared himself to Martin Luther King Jr. during his sentencing hearing.
According to WUSA9, U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan on Thursday sentenced Troy Anthony Smocks to 14 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to one felony count of transmitting threats in interstate commerce.
Smocks, who traveled from Texas to Washington, D.C., on January 6, was accused of threatening members of Congress on Parler – the right-wing friendly social media platform. Per the charging documents, prosecutors said the accused Black man arrived in D.C. from Texas on January 6, and then went ahead to share a series of threatening posts on his Parler account. Smocks allegedly posted the threatening messages for two days.
In one of the posts, Smocks wrote, “Many of us will return on January 19th, 2021, carrying our weapons in support of Our nation’s resolve, to which the world will never forget. We will come in numbers that no standing army or police agency can match.”
In a different post, Smocks urged users on the social media platform to “get our personal affairs in order” and get their weapons ready. “Let’s hunt these cowards down like the Traitors that each of them are,” he added.
Though Smocks was in D.C. on January 6, his attorney, John Machado, claimed he wasn’t part of the rioters who forced their way into the Capitol. Machado also added the Department of Justice did not bring any charges against his client in connection with the Capitol riots.
Smocks, who reportedly has multiple previous criminal convictions, was arrested on January 15. The Department of Justice said the accused man was actually set to fly out of the United States to a foreign country on that day, WUSA9 reported.
Prior to receiving his sentence, Smocks claimed race played a factor in his treatment. He justified his allegation by referring to Dawn Bancroft, a White woman suspected to have entered the Capitol during the riots. Bancroft was reportedly given the green light to plead to a misdemeanor despite setting foot in the Capitol and threatening the life of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a recording.
“Your honor, this is racism,” Smocks said. He then made mention of Martin Luther King Jr. and claimed he shared the civil rights icon’s “idea of justice.” But Chutkan, who is Black, begged to differ.
“Coming into this courtroom and trying to make yourself out to be a victim of racism… I find that offensive,” she said. “There are people who died for civil rights. For you to hold yourself up somehow as a soldier in that fight is really quite audacious.”
Chutkan also cited Smock’s lengthy criminal history as proof of his “inability to live a law-abiding life,” adding that he also had the “audacity” to refer to the rioters who stormed the Capitol as “patriots”, and the officers who tried to secure the building “cowards.” She also said all of that happened while Smocks was out of danger as he was in his hotel room. Smocks was also said to be unremorseful.
“I listened to every word Mr. Smocks said, and nowhere did I hear a single word of remorse,” Chutkan said. “Not a single word of acknowledgment of the enormity and seriousness of what he did.”
Though Smocks was sentenced to 14 months in prison, he’ll receive a 9-month credit for time served while waiting for his trial. He’ll be under supervised release for three years when he’s out of prison.