BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — “My president called and we came,” said John Paul White, who is a former Bakersfield resident who traveled to D.C on Wednesday for the “Save America March” and to object to lawmakers certifying the election.
White says the protest remained peaceful up until the point that they arrived at the Capitol, where they were met with the police. He said, “The police were totally unprepared and reacted inappropriately and they need to take a share of the responsibility for this problem.”
As the tension grew between the two groups who were separated from a barricade, White says he started seeing tear gas, flash bombs and rubber bullets being used. However, that didn't stop the protesters.
White said, “They started to hold the line, and that's what they were saying, 'Hold the line,'.” And from here, White says protesters started making their way closer to the Capitol entrance until they broke in.
Local lawyer Mark Anthony Raimondo says those who stormed the building, could face some serious consequences. He says, “Up to 10 years in prison for any graffiti damage, destruction, conspiring to destruct, defacing any federal building or property of the United States.”
Raimondo, a criminal defense lawyer in Bakersfield, said compared to the state level, federal level punishments are way more serious. He says, “Even a felony vandalism in California, the very maximum you can get is three years. On a federal level it's triple the time for basically the same act.”
However if arson is involved, like the destruction that occurred during the protests in Portland last year at the Federal Courthouse, Raimondo says the consequences are even stronger.
As for the chaos that broke out on Wednesday, Raimondo says that lawmakers will have up to 5 years to file the cases if they choose to prosecute those who damaged any federal property. However, he says it's hard to tell what will happen, as we are just a couple of weeks away from a new administration. He says, “there's going be a whole spectrum of serious crimes for some folks, some will be let go, some handled at a state level. “
Raimondo says that the process in the federal court system is quite slow in general, but when you add the COVID issues on top of it, this could take even more time. And with the changes in administrations coming up, he doesn't see much happening right now.