A gay hairdresser has agreed to a plea deal for participating in the Capitol insurrection on January 6.
If the judge accepts the deal, he’ll have a maximum sentence of six months in prison, even though he said on social media that his intent was to incite “a revolution” like in “1776.”
Brandon Straka, 43, will appear in a federal court next Tuesday, October 6, to enter his plea after he posted a video online of himself at the Capitol that day and multiple social media messages calling for more violence.
Straka is a hairdresser from New York who got some fame in 2018 for his #WalkAway organization that encouraged groups that usually vote for Democrats – like LGBTQ people – to “walk away” from the Democratic Party vote for Republicans. He claims he was once a Democrat.
In the years since then, he has become more radical, until he was slated to be a speaker at a “Stop the Steal” rally on January 5 in D.C., according to a rally permit from the Department of the Interior. The rally was to promote the lie that President Joe Biden stole millions of votes across several states to usurp the presidency from Donald Trump, and somehow left no clear evidence of this massive undertaking.
The next day, Straka was tweeting to his half a million followers from the Capitol.
“Patriots at the Capitol – HOLD. THE. LINE!!!!” he wrote on January 6.
Later in the day, he said he was “confused” that major GOP leaders said they didn’t support the crowd, which was carrying weapons and chanting “Hang Mike Pence” as they trashed the Capitol and lawmakers were taken to safety by law enforcement officers.
“I’m completely confused,” he tweeted. “For 6-8 weeks everybody on the right has been saying ‘1776!’ & that if congress moves forward [with ceremonially accepting each state’s electoral votes] it will mean a revolution!”
“So congress moves forward, Patriots storm the Capitol- now everybody is virtual signaling their embarrassment that this happened.”
He later deleted his social media accounts, and two days after the riot Facebook deleted the page for #WalkAway, saying that it violated Facebook’s policy against “hateful, threatening, or obscene” content.
Multiple people also caught him on video – which the FBI obtained after videos were posted to YouTube – that allegedly showed him outside the Capitol, shouting “We’re going in!” and “Go! Go!”
Another video allegedly showed shows Straka urging other rioters to attack a Capitol Police officer and rip away his protective gear. According to charging documents, Straka shouted: “Take it away from him.” Other people in the crowd then yelled, “Take the shield!”
He was arrested later in January on multiple charges that could have resulted in a five year jail sentence. WASU 9 reports that he accepted a plea deal with the Department of Justice that reduced the charges to just one misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct in a Capitol building.
In 2019, Straka sued New York’s LGBT Community Center because they wouldn’t let him hold a conservative event there. He accused the Center of discriminating against him because he’s gay, presumably because he believed that the Center would have allowed straight conservatives to hold an event there or something.
Ninety people have pled guilty so far to charges related to the Capitol Insurrection.