WASHINGTON — A Delaware man who carried a Confederate flag through the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot was sentenced to three years in prison on Thursday.
Kevin Seefried, 53, was convicted on five charges stemming from his participation in the riot, including obstruction of an official proceeding — the joint session of Congress that was working to certify the Electoral College vote that day.
The government had sought a 70-month sentence for Seefried, while his lawyers asked for one year in prison.
U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden, a Trump-appointed judge who oversaw the trial, told Seefried it was "shocking" and "outrageous" that he brought a Confederate flag into the Capitol. He also criticized Seefried for using the flag to jab at a Black U.S. Capitol Police officer during the confrontation in the building.
“I hope you realize how offensive it is,” McFadden said.
An emotional Seefried addressed the court before being sentenced and apologized, saying that he made a terrible mistake and his family has suffered for it.
“I thought that standing there and using my voice was protected under freedom of speech, but I know I crossed the line,” he said. “I never wanted to send a message of hate.”
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Photographs of Seefried walking through the Capitol with his Confederate flag quickly became some of the most well-known images from the Jan. 6 assault. Seefried brought the flag “as a symbol of protest, but had not considered the logic of those who see the flag as a symbol of American racism,” his lawyers wrote in their sentencing memorandum filed last week.
“Now that photos of him with the flag have become iconic symbols of the horror of January 6, Mr. Seefried completely understands the harm he has caused,” they wrote, adding that Seefried is aware that “the community and even history, may view him as a racist.”
Seefried was the first rioter in the building to interact with U.S. Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, who led Seefried and other rioters away from the entrance to the Senate chamber, prosecutors said. Goodman had ordered Seefried to leave the building. In response, Seefried asked Goodman where the members of Congress were and “jabbed the base of the flagpole at him,” prosecutors said.
“You can shoot me man, but we’re coming in,” Seefried told Goodman, according to prosecutors.
Seefried attended the riot with his son, Hunter, 24, who was charged alongside him and was already sentenced in October to two years in prison. During Hunter’s sentencing, his lawyer blamed the elder Seefried for allegedly pressuring his son to storm the Capitol. Kevin Seefried was granted permission by a judge to travel to Washington to attend his son’s sentencing but was not seen in the courtroom during the October hearing.
More than 900 people have been arrested in connection with Jan. 6 so far, resulting in nearly 500 guilty pleas and dozens of significant prison sentences. The investigation is ongoing.