Man seen holding Confederate flag in Capitol riot found guilty

·4 min read

A Washington, D.C., federal judge convicted Kevin Seefried, a Jan. 6 rioter who was seen walking through the Capitol with a Confederate flag, on all counts in his U.S. Capitol riot case, including obstruction, entering a restricted building, disorderly conduct and unlawful parading. The judge said he was convinced by the evidence presented by prosecutors, including the testimony of U.S. Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman, who famously lured the mob away from the Senate chamber on Jan. 6.

Judge Trevor McFadden also cited evidence Seefried had used the Confederate flag to jab at Goodman.    Seefried faces sentencing Sept. 16. Minutes after the verdict was read, Seefried was in tears hugging supporters in the courtroom.

Seefried's son, Hunter, was partially acquitted. The judge found Hunter Seefried not guilty of a charge for breaking a window at the Capitol, saying the evidence was not clear. McFadden convicted Hunter of the more serious charge of obstruction.

Kevin and Hunter Seefried, of Laurel, Delaware, traveled to Washington, D.C., for then-President Trump's Jan. 6, 2021, "Stop the Steal" rally. On that day, they were alleged by U.S. prosecutors to have been among the first protesters to breach the Capitol, entering through a broken window — video footage allegedly shows Hunter Seefried punching it out with a two-by-four. Kevin Seefried was photographed a short time later with the Confederate flag, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Kevin Seefried then allegedly confronted Officer Goodman near the Senate. Court documents said that Kevin Seefried said he brought the flag from his home in Delaware, where it is usually displayed outside.

A supporter of President Donald Trump carries a Confederate battle flag on the second floor of the U.S. Capitol after breaching security during the protests on January 6, 2021. / Credit: Mike Theiler / REUTERS
A supporter of President Donald Trump carries a Confederate battle flag on the second floor of the U.S. Capitol after breaching security during the protests on January 6, 2021. / Credit: Mike Theiler / REUTERS

The Seefrieds consistently maintained their innocence and tried to get the more serious charges against them dismissed.

During the trial, defense lawyers argued the Seefrieds did not intend to interfere with the electoral count and that the Confederate flag was not a symbol of hate to Kevin Seefried. They told jurors that Kevin Seefried did not complete the 9th grade and didn't know much about history.

Goodman, who testified on Monday, said that on Jan. 6, 2021, he was inside the Rotunda, and a group that included Seefried yelled, "Where the members at" and taunted Goodman, saying, "What are you going to do, shoot us?" They threatened him, noting there were thousands in the crowd and only one of him. Goodman has been hailed as a hero for leading the mob away from the Senate chambers and toward an area of the building where there were more police, while Vice President Mike Pence was being evacuated.

Kevin Seefried, second from left, holds a Confederate battle flag as he and other Trump supporters are confronted by U.S. Capitol Police officers outside the Senate Chamber in the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.  / Credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP
Kevin Seefried, second from left, holds a Confederate battle flag as he and other Trump supporters are confronted by U.S. Capitol Police officers outside the Senate Chamber in the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. / Credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

He also told the court that he had run out of pepper spray after using it all earlier in the day to protect the west terrace outside the Capitol. He recalled having to go inside the building after he had an adverse reaction after being attacked by rioters armed with tear gas and bear spray.

Goodman described Kevin Seefried as angry — "the complete opposite of pleasant" and said that the elder Seefried had used the Confederate flag to jab at him. The officer described the son as "sly" and noted that he had smirked with a "'we won'" sort of look, but Goodman did not find him to be aggressive.

In closing remarks, defense lawyers argued that the government did not show any evidence that Kevin Seefried  "knew that there was anything to obstruct." They said that the "Stop the Steal" rally "brought individuals here for a completely innocent reason" and that there had to be evidence of Seefried's intent, independent of the rally.

Defense attorney Eugene Ohm contended that it was "important" to Kevin Seefried "that he isn't seen as a person walking around, marching around spreading hate, because that's not who he is," and he asked the court to take into consideration the fact that Seefried was among the first of the hundreds who face Jan. 6 charges to turn himself in.

The father and son pair were tried in a two-day bench trial, an option that has already been successfully pursued by two other Jan. 6 defendants, who were both largely acquitted by the same judge, Trevor McFadden, an appointee of former President Donald Trump. In a bench trial, defendants argue their cases before a judge, rather than a jury. McFadden acquitted the two defendants on five of the six total federal charges at issue, marking the only trial acquittals so far in the handful of U.S. Capitol riot prosecutions to go to trial.

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