Man who wore ‘Camp Auschwitz’ shirt to Capitol riot pleads guilty to trespassing charge

·2 min read

The man who was pictured wearing a “Camp Auschwitz” shirt inside the US Capitol during the 6 January riot has pleaded guilty to trespassing.

Robert Packer, a 57-year-old from Newport News, Virginia, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to one count of parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building, making him the latest rioter to reach a plea deal with prosecutors.

Packer was caught on camera inside the Capitol on 6 January 2021 as a violent mob of Donald Trump supporters stormed the building in an attempt to stop the certification of the presidential election for Joe Biden.

His image quickly went viral online because of his distinctive anti-Semitic sweatshirt which promoted the Auschwitz concentration camp where more than 1 million Jewish people were murdered by the Nazis.

The black shirt had a picture of a human skull with the phrases “Camp Auschwitz” and “Work Brings Freedom” – a rough translation for the words emblazoned on the gates to the camp.

Prosecutors said Packer entered the Capitol building despite seeing broken glass and police officers using tear gas to try to keep rioters at bay.

He was seen among a group of rioters who were brandishing a shard of the broken nameplate from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office.

Packer was also in the area where a police officer shot rioter Ashli Babbit as she tried to break into the House chamber through a broken window, said prosecutors.

Packer the left the building about 20 minutes after he first entered.

The 57-year-old was arrested one week after the violent insurrection when he was identified in the media and a witness contacted the FBI to say he recognised him as a regular customer at a store in Newport News.

Robert Packer is seen inside the US Capitol in his ‘Camp Auschwitz’ shirt (DOJ)
Robert Packer is seen inside the US Capitol in his ‘Camp Auschwitz’ shirt (DOJ)

Investigators tracked down the suspect and uncovered surveillance footage of Packer wearing the same offensive shirt inside the store in December 2020 – just one month before the riot.

Court documents reveal that other Nazi memorabilia was also found during a search of Packer’s home including swastika artwork, pictures of Adolf Hitler and a folder titled “Whites Only Material”.

He was charged with disorderly conduct, knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without authority and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.

After reaching the plea deal on the one count, Packer now faces up to six months in prison.

He is scheduled to be sentenced on 7 April.

More than 730 people have so far been charged with federal crimes for their involvement in the Capitol riot with around 200 of them pleading guilty.

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