GRAVETTE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – This is a story that received national attention for months: the Capitol insurrection. One man in the middle of it all is from Northwest Arkansas.
This photo of Richard Barnett or ‘Bigo’ of Gravette, Arkansas made headlines on January 6, 2021. Now, he is preparing for a federal trial. He spoke exclusively with KNWA/FOX24’s Samantha Boyd about that day.
I think more than anything I just wanted to feel like I was closer to the seat of power.RICHARD BARNETT, CHARGED IN CAPITOL INSURRECTION
On January 6, 2021, the photo above went viral. You can see Barnett inside of Democrat and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. Though many believed he propped his feet up on her desk, Pelosi’s daughter later tweeted the desk itself was not hers.
Barnett told media that day he left behind a note and took a piece of Pelosi’s mail.
“Those actions cannot be tolerated and those people must be held accountable,” said Head of FBI in Little Rock, Diana Upchurch.
After returning home from D.C., Barnett turned himself into the Benton County Sheriff’s Office. The FBI declined our request for an interview for this story, but KNWA/FOX24 talked to a spokesperson back in January when agents searched Barnett’s home.
The activities of those involved in the siege of our Capitol were violent. They were destructive. They resulted in tragic loss of life and they threatened our nation’s security.Diana Upchurch, Head of FBI in Little Rock,
Barnett faces seven federal charges, from disorderly conduct and theft of property to entering a restricted building with a deadly weapon.
“When you’re talking about the type of charges many of us got filed against us and the extremes they’ve gone to… it’s out of the ordinary,” Barnett said. “It’s not normal.”
Defense Attorney and former President of the Arkansas Association of Criminal Defense, Tony Pirani, is not involved in this case, but he said Barnett’s trial, in particular, will be monumental because so far, many others arrested on January 6 have taken plea deals.
It is going to be very telling about where we are and where we go as a country.TONY PIRANI, LOCAL ATTORNEY
Barnett said he plans to try his case in federal court.
“At that time I was shocked,” Barnett said. “I mean, now, a lot of time has passed, and I think, ‘wow, is this what our country is all about?'”
Barnett said he never intended to storm the Capitol; he mainly went to hear former President Donald Trump speak.
However, he has a history of attending “Stop the Steal” rallies in Arkansas.
I think by being there I finally felt like I was stepping out and trying to make a difference.RICHARD BARNETT, CHARGED IN THE CAPITOL INSURRECTION
Pirani said in all of his years of work in criminal defense, he has never seen anything like this insurrection or the legal aftermath.
“In terms of an evidentiary standpoint, I think there is very strong evidence on the government’s side,” the attorney said.
Barnett admits he was in the Capitol and that is him in the photos, but, he feels his actions were justified.
“As far as apologies or regret….no comment,” Barnett said. “You can pretty much guess how I feel, but I can’t comment on it.”
Right now, there is still no set date for Barnett’s federal trial. If convicted, he faces up to six or seven years under federal guidelines.
Dozens of other insurrectionists have pleaded guilty to their roles on January 6 and will serve time behind bars.
One of the most notable is Jacob Chancey, also known as ‘Q’anon Shaman.’ He was recently sentenced to 41 months in federal prison.
Two other Arkansans were charged from the insurrection: Jon Thomas Mott from Flippin and Peter Francis Stager from Conway. They are also awaiting federal trial.