Election 2020 Politics

W.Va. politician, abortion protester sentenced to 3 months for Jan. 6 role

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A West Virginia state legislator who helped lead the charge of protesters who overwhelmed police on the east side of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and live-streamed the insurrection on Facebook, was sentenced Wednesday to three months in jail for the felony of committing civil disorder.

Derrick Evans, 37, of Prichard, W.Va., proclaimed himself an activist and also live-streamed his protests outside of West Virginia’s only abortion clinic, leading the clinic to build a 10-foot fence around the the building and a clinic volunteer to obtain a restraining order against him. He was known for taking his phone and streaming his protests against Black Lives Matter or drag brunches. Evans ran for the state House of Delegates first as a Democrat, then won as a Republican in 2020. He was sworn in on Dec. 14, 2020.

Before he stormed the Capitol, ex-W.Va. lawmaker harassed women at an abortion clinic

In the weeks before Jan. 6, on his “Derrick Evans – The Activist” Facebook page, which had 32,000 followers, Evans called for others to join him in the journey to the Capitol, according to court records show. He posted memes of Donald Trump saying things such as “Fight for Trump” and “A Storm is Coming,” court records show. He documented his bus trip to Washington on Facebook, and on Jan. 6 bypassed Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally on the Ellipse and went straight to the east side of the Capitol for several hours, prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memorandum.

As the crowd grew, Evans put on a helmet and shouted out updates to the crowd about the violence occurring on the west side of the Capitol, where rioters first breached the building, the sentencing memo states. Prosecutors played clips of Evans’s live-stream video in court Wednesday, showing him yelling at police officers, “You go tell your liberal mayor to go kiss rocks!”

Eventually, the mob on the east side pushed through the Rotunda doors. Evans narrated as they did, according to the video. “We’re taking this house, I told you today! Patriots stand up!…My people didn’t vote for me because I was a coward.” And finally, “We’re in! Derrick Evans is in the Capitol!”

GOP West Virginia state delegate live-streams as he storms Congress with pro-Trump mob: ‘We’re going in!’

Evans deleted his video later that day, but it had already been widely seen, and he was quickly identified and arrested on Jan. 8. He resigned from the state legislature the following day, shortly before the 2021 session began.

Court records show Evans met with the FBI twice and made false claims in both meetings. In the first, he told agents that police were allowing rioters into the Capitol, though he narrates his own video saying, “There’s cops on the inside stopping us now!” In the second meeting, Evans claimed he brought a helmet to the Capitol to protect himself against antifa members but repeatedly told others that it was “patriots” breaching barriers and assaulting police, prosecutors said.

Evans was not held in jail after his arrest, and pleaded guilty in March to felony civil disorder. He appeared for his sentencing by video from his home in West Virginia. He thanked Senior U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth for allowing him to remain free, which enabled him to see the birth of his fourth child.

“I’m a good person,” Evans told the judge, “who was unfortunately caught up in a moment which led to me breaking the law. I accept full responsibility for my actions.”

The advisory sentencing guidelines called for a sentencing range of zero to six months. Prosecutors asked for the midpoint, three months. Lamberth said he would have given Evans the full six months, but he didn’t want to be “tougher than the government.”

Lamberth, however, went above the government recommendation in two previous Jan. 6 felony sentencings, including imposing a 51-month sentence on a man convicted of assaulting police, when prosecutors had sought 46 months. Evans is the 20th felony defendant to be sentenced for Jan. 6; all have received jail terms.

“When you look at the tapes,” the judge told Evans, “you were egging people on and you were encouraging. It’s not like you walked through the building … I have to send a message. I don’t want another riot after the next election.”

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