by Julie Kelly
Joe Biden’s Justice Department notched another victory last week in the agency’s sprawling investigation into the January 6 protest on Capitol Hill against Biden’s presidency.
On Wednesday, Michael Curzio pleaded guilty to one count of parading, demonstrating, or picketing in the Capitol building. The government offered the plea deal to Curzio’s court-appointed attorney in June; Curzio faced four misdemeanor charges, including trespassing and disorderly conduct, for his role in the Capitol breach.
Curzio will pay the government “restitution” in the amount of $500 to help pay for the nearly $1.5 million in damages the building reportedly sustained. (The Architect of the Capitol initially said the protest caused $30 million in damages but prosecutors have set the figure far lower.)
The misdemeanor to which Curzio pleaded guilty carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail. But Curzio isn’t headed to jail any time soon. To the contrary, Curzio actually left jail on July 14.
Because he had already served six months in prison.
Curzio is one of nearly 100 defendants kept behind bars for months under pre-trial detention orders sought by federal prosecutors. (Not all have been housed in the D.C. jail.) In several instances, the defendants, like Curzio, aren’t accused of committing a violent crime.
But the Justice Department, with the consent of federal judges in Washington, D.C., repeatedly seeks to punish Americans for protesting the election of Biden by keeping them in jail awaiting trials that won’t begin until next year or until they accept a plea deal.
While Republican politicians fixate on the uprising in Cuba—House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) last week announced the creation of the “Leader’s Advisory Team on Cuba” and spent most of the weekend tweeting about it—the most powerful law enforcement apparatus in the world continues to track down U.S. citizens and make them pay for daring to resist the Biden regime.
Curzio briefly entered the Capitol on January 6. He did not bring a weapon or assault police officers. In fact, he was arrested that day for trespassing, paid a fine, and was ordered back to Washington, D.C. in June for a court date. But the next day, the government issued a warrant for his arrest on two misdemeanors; entering or remaining on Capitol grounds and violent entry.
After leaving work on January 14, Curzio was pulled over a few miles from his Florida home. “Out of nowhere, police SUVs were in front, behind, and alongside my vehicle,” Curzio told me by phone Sunday afternoon. “The cops were screaming, ‘get out, get out’ and had their guns drawn.”
Curzio was arrested. Based on his criminal record—Curzio spent nearly seven years in jail for attempted first-degree murder—a Florida judge denied bond. (He was not on parole or probation.) Biden’s Justice Department took it from there.
Federal prosecutors argued Curzio should be incarcerated, not necessarily because of his actions on January 6 but because of his conduct while he was serving time for his previous offense.
“Curzio does not engage in destructive or violent behavior, and does not appear to encourage or discourage disorderly conduct,” government lawyers wrote in a March motion. “Curzio remains a defendant with a violent criminal history who unregretfully traveled over 900 miles to join a wild mob, unlawfully entered the Capitol, defied a police order to leave, and committed offenses that threatened the governance of the Republic.”
Keep in mind, they are referring to four misdemeanors.
Prosecutors accused Curzio of joining a “white supremacist gang” while he was in jail. Curzio still has tattoos, the government said, that show his affiliation with the gang. “It is a gang with a reputation for violence and that fact speaks very strongly to Curzio’s dangerousness.” (Curzio was released in February 2019. He said he joined the gang to protect himself in prison and cannot afford to have the tattoos removed.)
The judge agreed with the government; Curzio was then transported to a jail in the nation’s capital specifically used to incarcerate January 6 protesters.
Like dozens of defendants ordered held in D.C., Curzio spent a few weeks on buses and planes before he arrived at the jail that would be his home for more than five months. “I was in solitary at the Marion County (Florida) jail for eight days then transported by bus to another Florida jail. Then they took me to Jacksonville where I boarded a plane headed to Atlanta. Then to Oklahoma federal prison. Then to a jail in West Virginia and then Virginia. I finally got to D.C. on February 3.”
All detainees are required to quarantine in a single-man cell for 14 days under remaining COVID restrictions. But the jail conditions for January 6 defendants, which they refer to as “the pod,” aren’t much better. “It was just like being quarantined,” Curzio said. “We were locked down for 23 hours a day, only out for an hour to shower, talk to family, and talk to our lawyers.”
Curzio corroborates the accounts of other detainees, including reports of physical and mental abuse by prison guards, inedible food, and zero access to the outdoors, religious services, or physical activity. In-person meetings with lawyers are discouraged; if a detainee meets with his defense counsel, he must return to quarantine.
The detainees, despite the harsh conditions and unequal treatment by the U.S. justice system, nonetheless have found esprit de corps. They sing the National Anthem each night at 9:00 p.m. to keep spirits up.
“Most of the guys in there weren’t just there to support Trump, we went there for America. There were a lot of people there like me, people who lost everything in the lockdowns. We were saying, ‘we’ve had enough, we are tired of your foot on our neck.’”
Curzio also corroborated firsthand accounts and videos showing law enforcement officers assaulting protesters. “We were demonstrating peacefully on the west side of the building, singing and flying our flags. We were telling the police we were there to support them, that we back the blue.”
Sometime between 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m., Curzio said, cops started attacking them. “Out of nowhere, I hear flashbangs flying into the crowd. Cops were running up to the front lines spraying people with mace. One guy was just walking by the line and three cops grabbed him and threw him to the ground. They had things that looked like paintball guns filled with chemicals and they were spraying us then shooting rubber bullets.”
That’s when things got worse, Curzio said. “Families and kids were there. It was chaos. That’s when you started to see people scuffling with the police.”
Curzio told me he saw two men suffer heart attacks from the shock of the explosives. (Flashbangs, or stun grenades, temporarily blind and disorient the victim.) Curzio said first responders came with gurneys and were administering chest compressions to the victims.
According to Curzio, protesters on the west side started entering the building around 2:30 p.m. He saw about six officers letting people into the Capitol. “It was very cordial.”
For his nonviolent behavior on January 6, Curzio’s life now has suffered another major setback. “I lost everything. I’m sleeping in a friend’s RV for now trying to get on track.” But he’s not the only one.
“Some of us didn’t have anything to begin with but these guys are losing everything, too.” Most of the men are veterans and small business owners. “They’re losing their businesses. Their assets have been frozen. Some are losing their wives and girlfriends. And they are losing hope.”
Curzio said he cried the day he left jail. “I feel so bad for the boys left behind. They’ve never been in trouble before, they’ve never faced anything like this.”
Of course, this brings great satisfaction to Joe Biden’s regime and Beltway judges.
Meanwhile, in Cuba . . .
– – –
Julie Kelly is a political commentator and senior contributor to American Greatness. She is the author of Disloyal Opposition: How the NeverTrump Right Tried―And Failed―To Take Down the President. Her past work can be found at The Federalist and National Review. She also has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The Hill, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, and Genetic Literacy Project. She is the co-host of ‘Happy Hour podcast with Julie and Liz.’ She is a graduate of Eastern Illinois University and lives in suburban Chicago with her husband and two daughters.
Photo “Capitol Riot” by Tyler Merbler CC BY 2.0.