AP — A Maryland man who waved a Confederate flag on a lacrosse stick during the US Capitol siege pleaded guilty Tuesday to disturbing a police officer who was trying to disperse a crowd of rioters.
David Blair, 27, of Clarksburg, is facing a maximum sentence of five years in prison after pleading guilty to a felony count of obstruction of law enforcement during a civil disorder. Estimated sentences in Blair’s case suggest between eight and 14 months in prison.
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US District Judge Christopher Cooper is scheduled to sentence Blair on July 13.
Blair was accused of assaulting a Metropolitan Police Department officer outside the Capitol during the January 6, 2021 attack by a mob of Donald Trump supporters. Wearing a skull-themed face mask, Blair profanely taunted the officer and hit him with a wooden lacrosse stick adorned with a Confederate battle flag, prosecutors said. An officer’s body camera captured video of Blair waving the flag in front of a crowd that police were trying to disperse.
A jury trial for Blair was scheduled to begin May 2 in Washington, DC
Blair wasn’t the only riot defendant to bring a Confederate flag to the Capitol. A man draping himself in a Confederate flag on January 6th pleaded guilty to joining the mob that prevented Congress from confirming President Joe Biden’s election victory. This man – Matthew Ryan Miller, 23, of Cooksville, Maryland – is scheduled to be sentenced on May 23.
Police initially arrested Blair on the day of the riot and took him to a hospital to be treated for a cut on his head.
The FBI arrested Blair in February 2021. A federal grand jury charged him with assault, resisting or obstructing police with a dangerous weapon, a flagpole, among other charges.
Blair’s attorney disagreed that the flagpole in question – a lacrosse stick – was a deadly or dangerous weapon.
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Defense attorney Terrell Roberts III had argued that Blair was lawfully exercising his First Amendment rights on public land west of the Capitol when police arrested him. An officer caught Blair by surprise and without warning shoved him or ordered him out of the area, Roberts claimed.
“In response to this unlawful use of force, (Blair) used his lacrosse stick to block or check the officer who had his baton raised vertically in his right hand.” Roberts wrote in a February 2022 court filing. “The officer was not harmed or injured and such resistance, which was lawful under the circumstances, provided no basis for believing that there was a probable cause for the defendant’s arrest.”
Roberts also argued that an officer illegally confiscated a knife from a backpack Blair was carrying when police arrested him.
Prosecutors said Blair refused to comply with police orders to leave the West Lawn, a restricted area of the Capitol grounds, before assaulting the officer.
“The recording confirms that Blair heard this order because he shouted to the assembled group, ‘Stop walking backwards!’ and ‘We are Americans!’” Assistant US Attorney Michael Liebman wrote in a March 1 court filing. Prosecutors also claimed that police lawfully searched Blair’s backpack.
FBI agents seized a notebook recording the events of January 6 when they searched the home in Clarksburg, Maryland, that Blair shared with his mother. The phrase “Save America” was at the top of a notebook page, the FBI said.
More than 770 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the Capitol riots. Over 240 of them have pleaded guilty, mostly to offenses punishable by up to six months in prison. Two others were convicted after a court hearing on riot-related charges.
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https://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2022/03/29/man-who-waved-confederate-flag-pleads-guilty-in-capitol-riot/ Maryland man who waved Confederate flag on lacrosse bat pleads guilty to Capitol Riot – CBS Baltimore