Billy Knutson, rapper who praised January 6th, pleads guilty

Billy Knutson in a selfie in front of the Capitol on January 6 (L) and at a broken window (R)

Billy Knutson in a selfie in front of the Capitol on January 6 (L) and at a broken window (R) (Images from Justice Department court files)

A South Dakota man who joined the rioting mob in the Capitol on Jan. 6 and then recorded a rap video saying he and others “had to storm the Capitol” has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.

Billy Knutson36, admitted on January 6 to entering and being in a restricted building when dozens of donald trump Supporters pushed through police cordons and barricades and stormed the Capitol to prevent Congress from certifying it Joe Bidens Victory in the 2020 presidential election.

Prosecutors were alerted to Knutson’s presence at the riot by an unidentified confidential source who claimed to be related to Knutson.

According to prosecutors, Knutson had posted pictures of himself in front of the Capitol on Jan. 6 and was recorded entering the building through a window at around 3:30 p.m. Knutson was seen on surveillance video speaking to police officers and others inside the building. according to court records.

“Closed-circuit video footage shows him spending several minutes in the Capitol building interacting with police officers and others,” the insult statement reads, which lays out the facts and details of Knutson’s actions, which he acknowledges as true. “At times he appeared to be using a cell phone to record video and/or live stream and/or take photos in the Capitol. He then exited the Capitol through the Senate wing doors.”

The indictment also highlighted certain lyrics and images from his music videos, which he released under the moniker “Playboy The Beast.”

  • “The media has tried to demonize us about the events of January 6th, spreading fake news and propaganda as usual.”
  • “We will never give up; these patriots on a mission.”
  • “We don’t want to go to war, but we have to stay strong; we will never back down.” (This refrain is repeated many times.)
  • “Fuck them all, fuck them all; it’s a lost cause now. Line them up like dominoes and watch them all fall down.” (This chorus is repeated several times.)
  • “If you don’t fight for us, we have no choice but to band together and fight for ourselves.” [This was followed immediately by footage of rioters throwing objects (including a metal folding chair) at a police line at the Capitol on January 6, 2021.]
  • “We may have lost the fight, but this fight is far from over. Give me freedom or give me death.” [He makes throat-slitting motion as he says the second sentence.]
  • “Said I was ready for a war and I really meant what I said.”
  • “If the price of liberty is blood, then I’m willing to pay the fee.”
  • “You’re trying to take away our rights, we’ll greet you with guns.” [As animated bullets rain down on the screen.]

The insult statement also references a December 2020 video in which Knutson clearly aligns himself with the extremist group Proud Boys: “I’m locked and loaded, ready for a civil war…. We Proud Boys are ready for a civil war; 70 million armed civilians, you all don’t really want fights,” says Knutson.

In a video released in May 2021, Knutson boasted that he and others “had to storm the Capitol; Nancy doesn’t like us in her office,” in an apparent admission by the prosecution against him.

“Does the indictment really and accurately describe what you did in this case?” US District Judge Florence Y Pana Biden appointee, Knutson asked.

“Yes, ma’am,” Knutson replied, sounding deferential without any hint of the vocal effect he uses in his rap videos.

Knutson’s plea deal with the federal government also includes a cooperative provision in which he agrees to “allow law enforcement agencies to review any social media accounts they operate.” [Knutson] for statements and contributions made on and about January 6, 2021 and to conduct an interview with you [Knutson] on the events on and about January 6, 2021 prior to sentencing.”

Although Knutson insisted in his music that he was “ready for a war” and that he was “really serious,” he was the US Assistant Attorney Joseph DeGaetano confirmed that the plea deal, which Knutson accepted, was the government’s only offer.

Despite his “Give me freedom or give me death” lyric, Knutson faces up to a year in prison and a maximum fine of $100,000. Judge Pan set the verdict for July 22.

[Images via FBI court filings.]

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James Brien

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