Governor Ron DeSantis speaking

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DeSantis influencers crack prison rape joke at Jan. 6 defendant—as Florida governor claims he’ll pardon those convicted

DeSantis' comments came the day after ex-Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was handed a 22-year sentence.


Katherine Huggins


Posted on Sep 7, 2023   Updated on Sep 7, 2023, 10:13 am CDT

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) suggested Wednesday he may pardon or commute some people convicted in connection to the Jan. 6 attack at the Capitol.

“There’s some examples of people that should not have been prosecuted. They just walked into the Capitol,” DeSantis told Newsmax. “If they were [Black Lives Matter protesters], they would not have been prosecuted.”

He continued: “Then there’s other examples of people that probably did commit misconduct, they may have been violent, but to say it’s an act of terrorism when it was basically a protest that devolved into a riot, to do excessive sentences—you can look at—okay, maybe they were guilty but 22 years if other people that did other things got six months?”

DeSantis’ remarks came the day after ex-Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio received the longest sentence of any Jan. 6 defendant—22 years in prison—for seditious conspiracy. The previous longest sentence handed down went to Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, who was sentenced to 18 years in prison in May.

In Wednesday’s interview, DeSantis added that “we’ll use pardons and commutations as appropriate to ensure that everyone’s treated equally” before again referencing the riots that stemmed from the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020.

On Jan. 6, 2021, DeSantis condemned the Capitol riot, stating: “Violence or rioting of any kind is unacceptable, and the perpetrators must face the full weight of the law.” And the next day, he reiterated that it “was totally unacceptable and those folks need to be held accountable.”

But as time has passed, DeSantis has shifted his tune—both in criticizing media coverage of Jan. 6 and refusing to call it an insurrection. This July, DeSantis called it a protest that “ended up devolving” and argued that to call the defendants “seditionists is just wrong.”

But not everybody is convinced that DeSantis will follow through on pardoning and commuting sentences if he is elected in 2024.

Alexander Sheppard, who was sentenced Tuesday to serve 19 months in prison over his role in Jan. 6, claimed on X Wednesday that DeSantis’ rapid response director, Christina Pushaw, “retweeted someone’s post wishing harm on me in prison—then she quickly unretweeted it.”

The reply came from Gays Against Groomers, a pro-DeSantis influencer, after the accounts began feuding about Trump not pardoning Jan. 6 defendants before he left office.

“Maybe in prison, you’ll learn what real grooming is,” she wrote, which Sheppard says Pushaw retweeted.

“Ron DeSantis promised to pardon January 6th defendants, but we knew he was lying this whole time,” Sheppard added.

The Daily Dot has reached out to DeSantis’ campaign for comment.

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*First Published: Sep 7, 2023, 9:50 am CDT