The self-described white nationalist who stormed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office and posed for gleeful photos during the Capitol riot doesn’t believe he should be in jail—and he’s had a temper tantrum in court to make his opinion known.
“They’re dragging this out. They’re letting everyone else out,” Richard “Bigo” Barnett yelled during his Thursday court hearing, insisting that “it’s not fair” that he is still in jail while a slew of his fellow rioters have been released pending trial.
“This has been a bunch of crap,” he added.
The 60-year-old Arkansas man is facing several charges, including theft, after posing for an infamous photo in Pelosi’s office and arming himself with a stun gun as a MAGA mob attacked the Capitol while Congress met to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. Barnett was one of the first of at least 300 people to be arrested for participating in the riots and is among the few to remain in jail.
Dozens of rioters have been released pending trial, a result of lower-level offenses that federal judges have said are non-violent and therefore not worthy of detention. That fact seems to irk Barnett, who unloaded on Thursday about how “everyone else who did things much worse are already home” before accusing prosecutors of delaying his hearings.
“They can't keep pushing me out month by month!” he yelled, pleading that he does not want to remain in a D.C. prison for “another month” while others are “already home.”
Barnett’s outburst was futile. After a five-minute recess, his lawyers told the judge they intended to file a new bail motion. The judge said he would rule on whether to release Barnett after that is filed, then abruptly ending the hearing. His next court date is May 4.
Federal prosecutor Neama Rahman told The Daily Beast on Thursday that prosecutors prefer to keep accused criminals in custody pending trial but most of the Capitol riot participants have been released on bond because they’re not “a risk of flight or a danger to the community.”
But in Barnett’s case, he was seen carrying a weapon into the Capitol, so it could be argued that he is dangerous.
“The Magistrate Judge on his case originally wanted to place him on home confinement, but the Government appealed, and Chief District Judge Beryl Howell ruled that he was a danger to the community,” Rahman said in an email, adding that the judge “used to work in the Capitol on the Senate Judiciary Committee, so she may have been more offended by the assault than others.”
Prosecutors allege that during the Jan. 6 siege that forced lawmakers to hide for hours, Barnett was photographed carrying a stun gun and walking into Pelosi’s office. He posed for photographs sitting in Pelosi’s office with his feet propped on a desk, according to a criminal complaint.
Another photo shows Barnett, who previously described himself as a white nationalist who was prepared for a violent death, holding an envelope addressed to Pelosi. Once outside the Capitol, he appeared to brag about his behavior, all while still holding the personalized envelope he stole from Pelosi’s office.
“I did not steal it. I bled on it because they were macing me and I couldn’t fucking see so I figured I am in her office. I got blood on her office. I put a quarter on her desk even though she ain’t fucking worth it,” Barnett told one news outlet, according to the complaint. “And I left her a note on her desk that says, ‘Nancy, Bigo was here, you bitch.’”
In an interview with federal authorities, Barnett admitted to driving to D.C. from Arkansas to participate in the “Stop the Steal” rally. He insisted that he was “pushed inside of the Capitol by a large crowd” during the rally. He has since returned the empty envelope.