Another Trump supporter who violently invaded the Capitol on Jan. 6 was arrested this week only to be released shortly after. But in this case not only is Riley June Williams facing charges for storming the Capitol building, but also for helping to steal Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s laptop, NBC News reported.
The 22-year-old Pennsylvania woman was arrested Monday and charged with intentionally entering into a restricted building without lawful authority in addition to disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. Williams was also accused of stealing a laptop belonging to Pelosi with the intention of selling it to Russian intelligence. Charges related to theft were added Tuesday. Despite these severe offenses, a federal judge released Williams from jail into the custody of her mother Thursday.
The “gravity of these offenses is great, it cannot be overstated,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Martin Carlson said. While a federal prosecutor argued earlier this week that Williams should not be released on bail pending trial, claiming she might flee, Carlson noted Williams had no prior criminal record. Given the fact that Williams did try to flee prior to her arrest Monday and this was confirmed by her mother, her white privilege clearly allowed her to be released.
Across the country, Americans of color are arrested daily, yet their lack of prior criminal history does not influence the circumstances or charges they face. In one incident, Daily Kos reported a teenage Black girl was arrested and put into juvenile detention for not finishing her homework. In similar incidents, police officials arrested children for throwing tantrums.
Others, including protestors and advocates across the country, have faced jail time for peacefully protesting and demonstrating. Williams not only incited violence but was caught on camera trespassing and stealing. Daily Kos reported that footage from ITV News depicted Williams in a green T-shirt and brown trench coat repeatedly directing rioters to go “up the stairs” toward Pelosi’s office during the Jan. 6 attack.
According to an FBI court filing, Williams was also recorded on closed-circuit cameras in the Capitol building not only going in and out of Pelosi’s office but allegedly taking “a laptop computer or hard drive.” The FBI was alerted to Williams’ actions and video footage when a former partner of Williams tipped them off, alleging that Williams had planned to sell the computer to Russian intelligence.
According to the Associated Press, Williams’ defense lawyer, Lori Ulrich, told the federal judge the former boyfriend who had alerted the FBI was abusive to Williams and that “his accusations are overstated.”
Additionally, Ulrich blamed Trump for Williams’ actions. “It is regrettable that Ms. Williams took the president’s bait and went inside the Capitol,” Ulrich said.
While Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, confirmed on Jan. 8 that a laptop went missing from the conference room, the location of it is still unknown and was not discussed in court on Thursday, the AP reported.
Like others who were released after their involvement in the Capitol riots, the only restrictions Williams faces relate to travel. She is set to appear in court on Monday to continue her case.
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