A Texas real estate agent who swore she wouldn’t be jailed over her role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot has been sentenced to 60 days in prison.
U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper on Thursday also slapped convicted rioter Jenna Ryan with $500 in restitution after she was charged with a single count of parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building.
At the hearing, Cooper told Ryan that he believed her punishment would tell Americans “something about the courts and about how our country responded to what happened, and I think the sentence should tell them that we take it seriously.”
“You suggested antifa was somehow involved. And perhaps most famously, you said that because you had blonde hair and white skin, you wouldn’t be going to jail,” Cooper said.
According to a sentencing memo that chronicled her appearance at the Capitol and her boastful commentary in the aftermath of the attack, Ryan in March had declared on Twitter that she would not face consequences for the insurrection—because she’s white.
“Definitely not going to jail. Sorry I have blonde hair white skin a great job a great future and I’m not going to jail,” she wrote. “Sorry to rain on your hater parade. I did nothing wrong.”
Hours before the insurrection, Ryan had repeatedly blasted out statements on social media that the events of Jan. 6 represented a “prelude” to “war.” She also posted a recording as she arrived at the Capitol, saying that she would be “breakin’ those windows,” prosecutors said.
According to prosecutors, as Ryan breached the Capitol, she flipped on her camera and began streaming on Facebook Live. She allegedly called on viewers to hire her as a realtor, and amid shattered glass and alarms, proclaimed: “Here we are, in the name of Jesus!”
Ryan’s lawyer, Guy Womack, had sought probation for his client, alleging on Thursday that she was “among the least culpable of all the defendants in this case.”
On Thursday, Womack described Ryan as a “social butterfly” who had not lingered long in the Capitol after breaching the building and had not been violent during the attack.
But Cooper on Wednesday cast doubt over why Ryan had in fact finally left the Capitol, noting that she had both celebrated and cheered the violence taking place that day.
“There is a dispute over why you left,” Cooper said. “I think it’s reasonable to think you left not because of regret, but because you didn’t want to experience tear gas.”
Prosecutors alleged that Ryan had stood inside the Capitol’s Rotunda lobby while another rioter could be heard shouting “go to [Speaker of the House Nancy] Pelosi’s office and destroy it.”
Ryan subsequently chanted, “Fight for Trump,” before a waft of chemical irritants “caused her to retreat from the building,” the sentencing memo states.
Prosecutors who alleged Ryan had drawn from her experience as a “social media influencer to promote violence before her arrival at the Capitol” also highlighted her attitude of superiority and immunity to punishment based on perceived racial privilege.
“A defendant who believes she is immune from strict punishment because of her race and physical appearance may reoffend because the consequences for wrongdoing will never, in the defendant’s mind, be severe even when severity is merited,” the memo states.
Months before her hearing, Ryan had boasted about flying in a private jet to the insurrection and called it “one of the best days of my life.”
Ryan showed little remorse in the weeks after her arrest, often defending her involvement, but separately telling The Washington Post she had regrets: “I bought into a lie, and the lie is the lie, and it’s embarrassing,” she said in an interview with the outlet published in February. “I regret everything.”
Ryan adopted a similar tone on Thursday, invoking belated remorse in the face of her sentencing after pleading guilty to charges in August.
“I just want to say that I am very sorry,” Ryan said. “I made a mistake and I’m sorry. You will never see me in this light again, I promise. It’s not anything that remotely resembles who I am, and I’m sorry.”