A Texas realtor who insisted she would not be jailed for participating in the 6 January Capitol riots because she is white lashed out at critics after being sentenced to 60 days behind bars.
Jenna Ryan, 51, received the sentence – along with a $500 fine – on Thursday after pleading guilty in August to one misdemeanour count of “parading, demonstrating, or picketing in the Capitol building”.
During the hearing, Ms Ryan expressed remorse for her actions on the day of the insurrection, saying: “I made a mistake and I’m sorry … This is not anything that remotely resembles who I am.”
Her tone changed when she took to Twitter after the sentence was handed down.
“I’m just gonna make a blanket statement to all the people that are calling me and texting me,” she wrote. “You win!!! I’m going to prison. So you don’t need to contact me anymore.
“Pop champagne and then rejoice. But just leave me alone. Thank you.”
Ms Ryan made headlines earlier this year when she bragged about taking a private jet to the insurrection and called it “one of the best days of my life”.
In the weeks after her arrest, Ms Ryan repeatedly defended her involvement in the violence, sometimes saying she had no regrets and other times suggesting that she was coerced by then-President Donald Trump.
I'm just gonna make a blanket statement to all the people that are calling me and texting me. You win!!! I'm going to prison. So you don't need to contact me anymore. Pop champagne and then rejoice. But just leave me alone. Thank you
— Jenna Ryan (@dotjenna) November 4, 2021
At Thursday’s sentencing, District Judge Christopher Cooper emphasised that Ms Ryan’s prosecution was solely about her actions inside the Capitol, not her political beliefs.
The judge rejected a “tendency in these January 6 cases to lump everybody together” because “each defendant’s role is different”, before noting that Ms Ryan’s case has “generated a fair amount of public interest”.
“As a result, people will be interested to know what sentence you get,” he said. “That sentence will tell them something about how the courts and how our country responded. And I think that the sentence should tell them that we take it seriously ... and that it should never happen again."
The Justice Department described Ms Ryan’s actions on the day of the riots and her comments in the months that followed in a memorandum ahead of her sentencing, in which prosecutors asked that she spend 60 days in jail.
The memo highlighted a tweet from Ms Ryan’s account in March, which read: “Definitely not going to jail. Sorry I have blonde hair white skin a great job a great future and I’m not going to jail. Sorry to rain on your hater parade. I did nothing wrong.”
Prosecutors cited the attitude portrayed in that post as a key reason to lock Ms Ryan up.
“A defendant who believes she is immune from strict punishment because of her race and physical appearance may reoffend because the consequences for wrongdoing will never, in the defendant’s mind, be severe even when severity is merited,” the memo states.
“Perhaps the most compelling need for specific deterrence arises from the defendant’s misguided belief that she is above the law, or at least insulated from incarceration.”
Definitely not going to jail. Sorry I have blonde hair white skin a great job a great future and I'm not going to jail. Sorry to rain on your hater parade. I did nothing wrong
— Jenna Ryan (@dotjenna) March 26, 2021
Prosecutors said Ms Ryan spent the past 10 years promoting herself as “real estate broker, self help coach and media personality” online and then “drew on her considerable experience as a social media influencer to promote violence before her arrival at the Capitol”.
The memo outlined Ms Ryan’s social media posts during the riots, including a photo of herself next to a broken window and live-streamed videos where she declared “I’m going to war”, “Life or death, it doesn’t matter, here we go”, and joined a crowd chanting: “Hang Mike Pence”.
Prosecutors also described comments Ms Ryan made in interviews after her arrest. On 8 January, she told Spectrum News that she went no further than the doorway of the Capitol and that the violence was quelled by the time she got there.
Five days later, she told Fox News: “I did something noble and I’m proud of being there, I have no shame to be there. I feel very persecuted.” And on 18 January she told NBC News that she felt “perfectly innocent” about her involvement adding: “I did not know I was breaking the law”.
By February, Ms Ryan changed her tune and told The Washington Post that she “regrets everything” and that she believes Mr Trump lied to her about the 2020 election being stolen. “I bought into a lie, and the lie is the lie, and it’s embarrassing,” she said.
After that interview, Ms Ryan made multiple public statements “reflecting a belief that she is immune from punishment because of her appearance and social status”, prosecutors wrote in the memo.
Those statements included the March tweet and a personal message asserting that she will get off “Scott free”, prosecutors said.
Ms Ryan was originally charged in January with four counts for entering and remaining in a restricted building, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building, violent entry and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.
Faced with a maximum penalty of six months in prison and a fine of up to $5,000, Ms Ryan struck a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty to the parading charge.