“Lionizing” the January 6 rioters increases the risk of future political violence, according to the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) in the most clear-cut declaration it has taken on these claims so far, Politico reported on Monday.
The statement came as part of an argument backing the pretrial detention of Cody Mattice, a defendant charged with tearing down metal barricades and assaulting police during the attack on the Capitol.
Following the DOJ’s emergency request, the chief judge of the D.C. District Court stayed on Monday a New York judge’s order releasing Mattice, according to WUSA9.
The D.C. judge ordered that Mattice be kept in federal custody while she reviews arguments from the DOJ.
In the court filing making the DOJ's case, U.S. Attorney Michael Roman wrote that “the risk of future violence is fueled by a segment of the population that seems intent on lionizing the January 6 rioters and treating them as political prisoners, heroes, or martyrs instead of what they are: criminals, many of whom committed extremely serious crimes of violence, and all of whom attacked the democratic values which all of us should share,” Politico reported.
The argument is an indirect criticism of Republicans who have tried to whitewash the violence committed by backers of former President Donald Trump during the assault on the Capitol and have labeled the defendants as “political prisoners.”
Roman’s filing was in response to the decision of a New York magistrate judge who rejected attempts by prosecutors to detain Mattice, arguing that the threat he posed was no longer relevant, since the transfer of power to the Biden administration had already taken place.
The judge pointed out that in order to detain a defendant before trial, prosecutors must demonstrate that a defendant is an ongoing danger to society - not just a previous one.
The DOJ said the magistrate judge missed the point, with Roman writing that “the threat of politically motivated violence is not gone. Political rallies, voting days, and certifications of votes are not everyday events, but they will happen again, and so too might the violence that our country witnessed on January 6, 2021.”
Mattice was charged alongside co-defendant James Mault, who was ordered detained by a North Carolina magistrate judge for his own actions at the Capitol.
The two men traveled to Washington together in advance of January 6, according to Politico. Prosecutors say that on that day Mattice advanced toward police lines, with photos and videos showing that he aimed a chemical spray at police officers during the riot.
In addition, prosecutors also recovered texts between Mattice and Mault in which they talked about coming to D.C. armed for violence.
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