Michael Eckerman, of Wichita, Kansas was allegedly one of the people who participated in the Capitol Hill riot on January 6 of last year. (We have to say “allegedly” even though there is photographic evidence to bear out the accusation.) This week, a federal judge ruled that Eckerman will stand trial on November 28th on felony charges of “civil disorder” as well as “assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers.” If the claims about Eckerman’s actions are accurate, he clearly took part in the riot. We do not support rioting here no matter who engages in it and I continue to believe that those who riot should be held accountable. But everyone who breaks the law should be treated equally and their punishment should reflect the severity of their crimes. Today we’ll take a look at Mr. Eckerman’s activities and try to guess what sort of sentence he will receive if he is convicted. (Associated Press)
A Kansas man accused of assaulting a federal officer during the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol will go to trial on several felony and misdemeanor charges, a federal judge has ruled.
A federal judge this week set a Nov. 28 trial date for Michael Eckerman, of Wichita, The Kansas City Star reported. He will be the first Kansan charged in the Capitol riot to face trial.
The felony charges against Eckerman include civil disorder and assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers. His attorney declined to comment on Thursday, The Star reported.
Unlike Mark Ponder, who was sentenced to more than five years for “swinging a pole” at some Capitol Hill Police officers (two poles, actually), Michael Eckerman actually entered the Capitol Building, whereas Ponder remained outside on the plaza. But he was not among the first through the doors or windows who damaged the building to gain access.
Once inside, Eckerman is accused of “shoving” an officer, causing him to trip and fall down a short set of steps. The officer was then sprayed with a fire extinguisher by another person, thereby “obstructing” him from doing his duties. The officer was reportedly not injured during the scuffle.
After that encounter, Eckerman made his way among the crowd of rioters to Statuary Hall, where another line of officers awaited. Inside the hall, Eckerman “yelled at officers for several minutes.” He then posed for a selfie in front of a painting of George Washington and departed the building. This is allegedly the sum total of Michael Eckerman’s involvement in the riot.
Now, Mr. Eckerman did (allegedly) make physical contact with one of the officers when he shoved him, so that would technically be an assault. And by causing him to go down the short stairwell I suppose he also “impeded” the officer in the performance of his duties. I’m not sure when “yelling” at someone became a federal crime and it sounds a lot like free speech to me.
Assaulting and impeding are crimes and Michael Eckerman should receive some sort of punishment if he is convicted of those two charges. But do those sound like the sort of crimes that would merit years in a federal penitentiary? One shove against one officer? I only ask because we’ve been seeing a disturbing pattern emerging. As I pointed out in my article about Mark Ponder (linked above), a person who used a pole of some sort and made contact with two officers’ riot shields and struck a glancing blow to the shoulder of a third officer was given more than five years in prison. Will Mr. Eckerman receive a sentence along the same lines just to “make an example of him?”
Just to put this in perspective, let’s close by taking a short walk down memory lane. Revisit this video taken during the BLM riots in Minneapolis during the “Summer of Love” in 2020. Look at what is happening to the police officers there as mobs destroy their police cruisers with the officers inside and attempt to drag them out into the streets. Look at the amount of “shoving” of police officers that’s going on as the cops are forced back toward the burning buildings set ablaze by the rioters. The faces of many of the rioters are clearly visible. They should not have been hard to identify. But as a follow-up report from those riots pointed out, not a single person from these incidents was ever charged. None of them were even arrested. Then ask yourself one question. Do you still think we live in a society where justice is applied equally under the law?