Douglas Andrews / Feb. 22, 2021

The Cruel and Unusual Punishment of Bigo Barnett

The vastly different treatment of two rioters points to a politically biased justice system.

Maybe Richard “Bigo” Barnett was the mastermind behind the whole thing. Maybe he hatched the plan, organized the rioters, and led the charge into the Capitol building on January 6. Maybe he’s planning more “armed insurrections.” Maybe the authorities think he poses a clear and present danger to the rest of us. Maybe that’s why he’s being held without bail in a federal prison in Washington, some 1,000 miles from his Arkansas home and his ailing wife.

Maybe, but we doubt it.

Barnett was the guy made famous by Agency France-Presse photographer Saul Loeb. In an image that raced around the world, he’s sitting in a chair in Nancy Pelosi’s office, with his left foot propped up on the corner of the desk, “just making himself at home, you know, just sort of like he owned the place.”

“They were taking lots of selfies of themselves,” Loeb told ABC News. “You know, they just sort of seemed like happy to be there, sort of surprised that they were there, I would guess.”

Clearly, not all riots are the same. As Miranda Devine writes in the New York Post, “When violent anti-cop rioters were arrested in last year’s ‘summer of rage,’ high-profile Democrats donated cash to bail them out, left-wing lawyers defended them pro bono, and sympathetic judges and DAs bent over backward to let them off scot-free. But when Trump supporters were rounded up over the Capitol riot, they were on their own.”

Let’s be clear: What Barnett and his fellow rioters did was wrong. They broke the law, and they deserve to be punished. But Barnett is 60 years old and has never been in trouble with the law before. Why is he being treated like a drug kingpin and a flight risk?

Why is it, for example, that Barnett is languishing in prison while a pathological rioter named Thomas Moseley keeps getting arrested and bailed out by an organization called the Minnesota Freedom Fund, which enjoys the enthusiastic support of Kamala Harris?

“If you’re able to, chip in now to the MNFreedomFund to help post bail for those protesting on the ground in Minnesota,” the future vice president tweeted back on June 1, when Moseley and his ilk were wrecking downtown Minneapolis.

According to Fox News, Moseley “had been arrested and released in cases involving allegations that include damaging a police precinct in August and rioting in December. He was arrested again on Jan. 27, just 22 days after his latest release. During that span, he is also suspected of trying to illegally purchase a gun, and officers are investigating that matter.” And Moseley is now facing three new felony counts.

Lest you think Moseley is some sort of anomaly, the fund has also bailed out a guy named Darnika Floyd, who allegedly stabbed a friend to death, and Christopher Boswell, who’s been charged with sexual assault and kidnapping. The group put up $100,000 on behalf of Floyd and $350,000 on behalf of Boswell.

And yet Richard Barnett, a 60-year-old window installer, is being held without bond and faces more than 10 years in prison for entering a restricted building, violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, and stealing public property. (That last charge is for having taken an envelope from Pelosi’s office, even though he left a quarter behind to pay for it.)

As Devine reports, “Barnett waived his Miranda rights when the FBI interrogated him and spent his entire lifesavings of $25,000 on legal fees that did not save him from jail. An additional weapons charge was added, for a stun stick that he claims had no batteries.”

Barnett behaved badly, no doubt. But it’s pretty clear that he’s being punished for the crime of having dared to offend Nancy Pelosi and her fellow Democrats. “The shocking images of Mr. Barnett with his boots up on a desk in the Speaker of the House’s office on Wednesday was repulsive,” said then-acting U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen.

Indeed, it’s hard to imagine anything more “shocking” and “repulsive” than a 60-year-old Arkansan putting his boots up on a desk in Nancy Pelosi’s office. The horror of it all.

Barnett’s cousin has been trying to raise money for his legal defense, but leftist fundraising platforms such as GoFundMe have banned pages for anyone involved in the Capitol riot. And yet, as Devine notes, “a 28-year-old woman shown on video punching a female Trump supporter in the face has raised $250,000 on GoFundMe.” Go figure.

For a long time now, we’ve known that our nation has a two-tiered justice system: one for the rich, and one for the poor. Increasingly, though, we’re seeing two more tiers: one for the Left, and one for the Right.

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