Man jailed for rhetoric to “Defend Tallahassee” from real Trump terrorists

A citizen who called on freedom loving Florida residents avail themselves of their Second Amendment rights to stop what he expected would be another coup attempt was sent to prison by two Trump appointees, Northern District of Florida United States Attorney Lawrence Keefe and United States District Court Judge Allen C. Winsor.

Daniel A. Baker, of Tallahassee, was arrested by FBI agents on January 15 after he issued a “call to arms” for patriotic Americans to confront potential terrorists who he believed were going to gather at the Florida Capitol in the days after Trump-loving terrorists staged the attempted coup d’état at the U.S. Capitol.

Baker’s series of social media posts called for citizens to show up ready to counter anticipated demonstrations by supporters of former President Donald Trump, encircling them if violence broke out that could not be contained by police.

Baker’s posts were made amid heightened security at the Florida Capitol after Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol and caused about $1.5 million worth of damage.

“Armed racist mobs have planted the Confederate flag in the nation’s Capitol while announcing their plans to storm every American state Capitol on or around Inauguration Day,” the call to arms said. “We will fight back.”

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‘This is an armed coup and can only be stopped by an armed community. If you’re afraid to die fighting the enemy, stay in bed and live,” said Baker’s rallying cry.

Baker was a U.S. Army Airborne infantryman before receiving an “other-than-honorable” discharge after he went AWOL prior to his unit being deployed to Iraq in 2007. After his discharge from the US military, Baker joined a predominantly-Kurdish component of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a militia that was allied with American troops fighting against the Islamic State in Syria (ISIS) before Trump abandoned them in October 2019.

Baker describes himself as an anarchist and he participated in Black Lives Matter protests after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd by kneeling on the victim’s neck.

Warren Stoddard, who served alongside Baker in the military, told the Post. “He said, ‘We’re going to stop people from taking the Florida Capitol.’ And if no one went to the Florida Capitol, there’s nothing to stop.”

After the mob of Trump supporters invaded the U.S. Capitol intending to prevent Biden from taking office, the FBI issued warnings that far-right extremists were plotting armed marches in Tallahassee and other state capitals, as well as in D.C.

In the wake of the sacking of the US Capitol, Baker’s social media activity escalated, and prosecutors alleged that he wanted to violently disrupt protests happening between the January 6 attempted coup d’état and Inauguration Day.

Baker attempted to recruit Florida residents to join him at the state Capitol in Tallahassee, days before Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration but during his trial in May, he testified that his comments on social media were heated political rhetoric, not real threats.

Despite warnings of violent plots around Inauguration Day, only a smattering of right-wing protesters appeared at the nation’s statehouses. In Tallahassee, just five armed men wearing the garb of the boogaloo movement — a loose collection of anti-government groups that say the country is heading for civil war — showed up. Police and National Guard personnel mostly ignored them.

Baker is charged with transmission, in interstate commerce, of a communication containing a threat to kidnap or to injure.

Following Baker’s 44-month prison term, he will be under supervised release for three years. That sentence is far greater than the typical punishment meted out to actual terrorists who tried to keep defeated President Donald Trump in power by violently overthrowing the government.

Public defender Randolph Murrell, who represented Baker, argued that the case centers on “whether or not there were true threats made.”

Murrell also set out to prove that the social media posts are “not quite what they appear to be,” arguing that Baker did not intend to initiate violence but does “believe in self-defense.”

Baker’s belief that the United States was on the brink of civil war was buttressed by events—a man fueled by misogyny killed two women at a Tallahassee yoga studio in 2018 and a pickup truck driver accelerated through a crowd of 2020 Black Lives Matter protesters —which convinced him that far-right violence had to be met with an armed resistance.

Baker’s lawyer argued that his comments were “the product of the heated political dialogue of the day.” They were no different, he said, from online posts by Republican officials telling their followers to “prepare for war” or to “take up arms” in the run-up to Inauguration Day. Baker’s friends said he had a bombastic social media presence that he stepped up to match inflammatory right-wing rhetoric.

Another Trump appointee, United States Magistrate Judge Michael J. Frank ordered Baker detained on January 25, so the community activist was detained for months before his trial.

The evidence used to convince the jury to convict included three firearms legally purchased by Baker, a shotgun, a handgun and 22 caliber rifle that looks like an AK-47.

During the sentencing hearing, Baker’s defense attorney said his client is “prone to hyperbole.” He said Baker’s threats “had no real victims,” and were “conditioned upon unlikely events.” The defense attorney also said Baker had a legitimate concern that people would attack the Florida Capitol.

Baker told the judge he accepts full responsibility for his actions and he “obviously won’t be doing or saying anything like that again.”

Political violence remains a tactic far more common among far-right groups than of those on the far left, according to law enforcement officials and data compiled by those who study extremist violence.

Federal authorities have repeatedly described homegrown, right-wing extremists as the most urgent terrorism threat facing the nation but the punishment meted out to those involved in the attempted coup on January 6 pales in comparison to Baker’s sentence.

Of more than 90 Trump-loving terrorists who pleaded guilty to various federal charges related to the actual attack on Congress, only nine have been sentenced to periods of incarceration so far.

Thirty-five-year-old Michael Thomas Curzio was sentenced to six months in prison for his crimes during the attempted coup but he previously served time in Florida for attempted murder and, while in prison, joined a violent white supremacist gang.

Curzio. who has tattoos of Nazi images, was the first person sentenced to time behind bars among more than 500 people charged with a federal crime in the Capitol attack.

Andrew Bennett, of Columbia, Maryland, will have to serve two years of probation, including the three months of home confinement.

Bennett was arrested in January after federal investigators received multiple tips alerting them to four videos Bennett had livestreamed on his Facebook page.

Those videos appeared to show him wearing a baseball hat with a Proud Boys motto on it while joining in chants of “break it down” during the Capitol riot. Court documents indicate Bennett was streaming nearby when Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt was shot and killed during an attempt to breach the Speaker’s Lobby.

Another charged Trump-loving terrorist, Danielle Doyle, was sentenced for her role in connection to the January 6 Capitol riot. U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden sentenced Doyle to two months of probation and a $3,000 fine, plus $500 restitution for the damage to the U.S. Capitol Building.

A Bloomfield, Indiana, woman was sentenced to 14 days in jail for taking part in attempted coup d’état at the U.S. Capitol by a judge who refused to consider the defendant’s choice not to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as a reason not to send her to jail. Dona Sue Bissey, 52, will also have to pay $500 in restitution and complete 60 hours of community service but she will not have probation afterward. 

Jessica and Joshua Bustle pleaded guilty in June to misdemeanor counts of “parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building” after they were identified as participants in the attempted coup d’état on January 6 and arrested by the FBI.

Jessica Bustle posted photos and descriptions of the Capitol that day on her Facebook page, including one that said: “Pence is a traitor. We stormed the capital. An unarmed peaceful woman down the hall from us was shot in neck by cops. It’s insane here. We’re safe and heading home but have limited service.”

U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan sentenced Jessica Bustle to 90 days of home detention and her husband to 30 days of home detention.

The person described as the “unarmed peaceful woman: was Ashli Babbitt, who was wearing a Trump flag as a cape, and appeared in video footage acting in an agitated manner while trying to get into the Speaker’s Lobby, a hallway that would have given them access to the House of Representatives chamber, and remonstrating with police officers. 

Babbitt, a 35-year-old California native, a U.S. Air Force veteran and strong Trump supporter, was shot by Lt. Michael Byrd, a plainclothes Capitol Police officer, as she was trying to climb through a broken window of a barricaded doorway inside the Capitol to a location where 80 House members and staffers were holed up.

“In the wake of the January 6 Capitol riot, many Democratic politicians and left-of-center pundits have been calling for the expanded use of ‘domestic terror’ laws against people whose social media rhetoric seems too radical,” in Reason magazine. “Those who warned that this would backfire—being used not just against those who have committed crimes but anyone whose political views or online comments are deemed risky—were accused of things like excusing terrorism or aligning with white supremacists. Yet it hasn’t taken long for these warnings to come to fruition.”

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