A member of the far-left Antifa network avoided jail time after admitting to participating in the attempted teardown of a statue near the White House in Washington.
Jason Charter was arrested for trying to topple a statue of former President Andrew Jackson on June 22, 2020. Charter, authorities said, entered Lafayette Park decked out in all-black clothing and was later seen on video wrapping ropes around the statue that other people pulled during the toppling attempt.
Charter, 27, faced up to 21 years in prison but prosecutors recommended no jail time after he pleaded guilty to violating a law that entering or remaining on restricted grounds.
The charge carries a maximum punishment of one year of imprisonment, one year of probation, and a fine of $100,000.
Charter, through his attorney, asked the court to sentence him to only probation, arguing the offense was non-violent and that it shouldn’t result in time in prison.
“Mr. Charter understands the seriousness of his engagement in this form of protest. He was simply trying to shed light on a figure in American History who should not be lauded as a hero. Andrew Jackson was a slave owner who profited and gained influence from the use of free human labor,” a sentencing memorandum stated.
The government asked the court to impose three years of probation, including 45 days of home detention, and $3,100 in fines and restitution.
The bid to take down the statue resulted in about $34,000 in damage.
While the nature of the offense was “serious,” and Charter’s actions “demonstrated a clear disregard for lawful limitations on conduct in Lafayette Park, and for the value and dignity of the property of others,” prosecutors expressed concern about Charter’s conduct later in 2020, including allegedly assaulting a Park Police officer.
U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich, a Trump nominee, agreed in court on Monday not to impose jail time, but went beyond the prosecutorial recommendations.
“There’s a line that he crossed here in this case,” she said in court, Ford Fischer, editor-in-chief of News2Share, reported.
Friedrich sentenced Charter to three years of probation, including 60 days of home detention, and to pay $2,600 in restitution. He must also engage in mental health treatment.
Charter told the court before the sentence was handed down that the Jackson statue he tried tearing down belongs in a museum but he is committed to getting members of Congress to remove it through legislation.
However, Charter said his actions, despite breaking the law, were “morally justified.”
The judge thought about adding two extra years of probation but said Charter’s comments convinced her against that path.
Charter said in a statement on social media before the sentencing that he was looking forward to the case being over.
“I look forward to a new chapter in my life, but I will always believe that we cant glorify and erect statues of awful people like Andrew Jackson. However I am willing to face the consequences of my actions,” he said.