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Kevin Seefried, Jan. 6 rioter who carried Confederate flag through Capitol, sentenced to 3 years in prison

Remembering the Capitol riot two years later
Remembering the January 6 Capitol riot two years later 07:18

Washington — The pro-Trump rioter who marched through the halls of Congress while wielding a Confederate flag on Jan. 6, 2021, was sentenced to 36 months behind bars on Thursday, more than two years after photos of him became some of the most widely recognized images of the attack on the Capitol.

Kevin Seefried, 53, was convicted in June 2022 after a bench trial before Judge Trevor McFadden of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, who found him of multiple charges, including obstructing Congress, entering a restricted building, disorderly conduct and unlawful parading. His son, Hunter, was also convicted on the obstruction charge, but acquitted on other counts. Hunter was sentenced to two years in prison last year. 

McFadden handed down the elder Seefried's three-year sentence in court on Thursday, calling his conduct "outrageous" and "especially shocking." Seefried, who must also serve one year on probation upon his release, told the judge he "crossed the line" and regretted his actions.

The sentence was shorter than the 70 months, or nearly six years, that prosecutors had sought.

The Seefrieds traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend then-President Donald Trump's "Stop the Steal" rally near the White House on Jan. 6. Prosecutors said they were among the first protesters to then breach the Capitol and enter through a broken window, remaining inside for 25 minutes. Kevin Seefried was photographed a short time later with the Confederate flag. According to court documents, he said he brought the flag from his home in Delaware, where it usually hangs outside.

Kevin Seefried holds a Confederate flag outside the Senate chamber on Jan. 6, 2021.
Kevin Seefried holds a Confederate flag outside the Senate chamber on Jan. 6, 2021. SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

Handing down his sentence, McFadden noted that Seefried confronted U.S. Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, a Black man, near the Senate chamber and jabbed his flagpole at him.

"Sir, I hope you realize how deeply offensive, how troubling it is," McFadden said.

Speaking in court and becoming emotional, Seefried said he was "deeply sorry" for his actions. 

"I had no idea that any of this would ever happen," he  said. "My intention was to use my voice … I never wanted to send a message of hate." 

Defense attorney Eugene Ohm emphasized that his client turned himself in voluntarily and espoused no violent rhetoric on social media, in contrast to some Jan. 6 defendants. "As soon as he figured out what he had done, he acted remorsefully," Ohm said, despite the fact that Seefried fought the charges at trial.

Goodman, who testified during the trial last year, said he was inside the Capitol Rotunda during the attack when a group that included Seefried yelled, "Where the members at?" They threatened Goodman, taunting, "What are you going to do, shoot us?" 

Goodman has since been recognized for leading the mob away from the Senate chambers and toward an area of the building where there was a larger law enforcement presence. The officer described Seefried as angry, and "the complete opposite of pleasant."

In court documents filed ahead of sentencing, prosecutors urged the court to impose a stiff prison sentence, arguing Seefried "stood resolute with the rioters, who demanded to know the location of the United States senators and representatives who gathered to certify the votes of the Electoral College."

"During their confrontation, Seefried thrust the butt of his flagpole at Officer Goodman," prosecutors wrote. "That flagpole was not only a weapon capable of causing serious injury; a Confederate Battle flag was affixed to it and it was brandished by a man standing at the front of a volatile, growing mob towards a solitary, Black police officer."

Seefried's public defenders wrote their client expressed "immediate and unwavering" remorse for his actions during the Capitol breach, explaining he brought the Confederate flag to protest and not to express any form of racism. 

"He is ashamed, mindful that the community and even history, may view him as a racist. And he knows that he must be punished for his role in the events of that infamous day," the defense team argued in court documents  ahead of Thursday's hearing.  

Despite knowing he was entering the Capitol that day, Seefried's attorneys wrote that the defendant — a construction worker — did not intend to obstruct Congress' work, but to make his views known at the behest of the former president. 

"Crowds around the Seefrieds were shouting that the President was going to meet them at the Capitol," the defense attorneys argued in court papers, highlighting the fact that Trump had told his supporters he was going to march to the Capitol with them. "The fallout for heeding Mr. Trump's call has been devastating: Mr. Seefried's wife has left him, he is headed to prison and he will be destitute when he is released. Worst of all, his beloved son is in prison."

"He cannot help but be afraid to ever trust a politician again," his lawyers wrote.

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