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Closed-circuit TV shows Derrick Evans (circled in red) trying to get through the Rotunda doors and Capitol Police (circled in blue) who are jammed between exiting and entering rioters.


Former West Virginia delegate Derrick Evans will spend three months in prison for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol. Frankly, he’s lucky to get such a light sentence.

At a time when the nation is learning from a congressional committee just how insidious the plot leading up to the effort to stop the certification of the presidential election on that day was, evidence was also presented that Evans, 37, was no mere member of the mob. Nor was the Wayne County man some macabre tourist who wandered into the building.

Prosecutors pointed out at sentencing Wednesday in U.S. District Court that Evans, who was live-streaming his participation in the riot, directed other rioters and cheered them on. Evans had chartered a bus to the Jan. 6 rally conducted by outgoing President Donald Trump, during which Trump repeated false claims of winning the 2020 election and told the crowd that then-Vice President Mike Pence could overturn the results, which is also false. Before Trump had finished speaking, domestic terrorist groups had begun their attempt to breach the Capitol. Some were clearly prepared for violence, as chants of “Hang Mike Pence!” rang through the halls.

There was no evidence that Evans, who pleaded guilty to a felony charge of civil disorder, participated in any violent behavior, although he skipped Trump’s speech to become part of the growing crowd at the Capitol. On his own livestream he said, “The peace is over with,” as the mob broke a barrier of bike racks, the first line of defense around the Capitol to fall.

He also said, “I bet Trump would pardon anybody who gets arrested for goin’ in there,” as was near the east doors, where rioters were attacking police with chemical spray. Prosecutors argued that Evans’ comments helped egg on the violence at that spot. After leaving the Capitol, Evans texted a friend, asking if he should delete his video so it couldn’t be used as evidence against him.

Evans knew what he was doing was criminal. And, as prosecutors pointed out, he was enthusiastic about it.

During his sentencing, Evans said he now realizes he made a mistake and let himself and his family down. Evans also should have apologized to the state of West Virginia. As a newly elected member of the state House of Delegates at the time, Evans brought great shame to the Mountain State through his actions. At least he resigned in the days following the event.

It’s hard to know how sincere Evans was in the hearing. Later that day, he was back on Facebook, promising to continue to fight for what he calls democracy. Ninety days in a federal prison should give him time to reflect, but one wonders if it’s enough.

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