Save the tears for your cellmate

YORK DISPATCH EDITORIAL BOARD
Seeking information flyers produced by the FBI are photographed on Dec. 20, 2021. The Justice Department has undertaken the largest investigation in its history with the probe into rioters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick

Nearly one year ago, on Jan. 6, 2021, the U.S. Capitol was overrun by hundreds of armed insurrectionists.

At the time, there was no indication that any of the folks who stormed violently through the U.S. Capitol police were in any way reluctant participants.

Quite the contrary. They seemed to revel in the mayhem, with many boasting about their actions on social media in the days following the deadly attack.

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Fast forward nearly 12 months, and now, suddenly, many of those same criminals are offering tearful expressions of remorse — and a litany of excuses.

Why the change of heart?

Well, now those rioters are faced with paying a price for joining the Jan. 6 insurrection and they are looking for ways to soften their punishments.

You’ll have to excuse us if we don’t put much credence in the rioters’ newfound remorse.

Most of those folks probably aren’t really sorry at all. They’re just sorry that they got caught and that now they have to pay a price for their reprehensible acts.

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According to an Associated Press story, the Justice Department's investigation of the riot has now entered the punishment phase. So far, 71 people have been sentenced for riot-related crimes.

What’s really alarming is that many of those sentenced aren’t your garden-variety goons. We are talking about professionals, such as a company CEO, an architect, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, a gym owner, a former Houston police officer and a University of Kentucky student.

In other words, people who should have known better.

Those rioters are saying they have lost jobs and friends after the mob of Donald Trump loyalists disrupted the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential victory.

Now some of them are losing their freedom.

To that, all we can say is hurrah.

There must be consequences for such behavior.

Lame excuses: Their excuses for their actions are just lame.

They got caught up in the heat of the moment.

They were just following the crowd into the Capitol.

They didn’t witness any actual violence or vandalism.

They thought police were letting them enter the building.

For the most part, the abundance of video evidence shoots holes in those excuses.

Fortunately, the judges in the insurrection cases appear to be seeing through the faux remorse and sad excuses when it comes time for sentencing.

Tip of the iceberg: And the 71 sentenced thus far are just tip of the iceberg.

According to the AP report, at least 165 people have pleaded guilty so far, mostly to crimes punishable by a maximum sentence of six months. There are dozens of cases involving more serious offenses still moving through the system. More than 220 people have been charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement officers at the Capitol, according to the Justice Department. Since November, three of them have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from more than three years to just more than five years.

More than 700 people have been charged so far and the FBI is still looking for more. Among the most serious charges are against far-right extremist group members accused of plotting attacks to obstruct Congress from certifying the 2020 presidential election. Their cases haven’t yet gone to trial.

We can only hope that all of the rioters get their just desserts.

They committed the crimes and now they must pay the price, despite their newfound remorse and lame excuses.