The Capitol protester whose feet were pictured on Nancy Pelosi’s desk is now claiming, through his lawyer, that he was subjected to inhumane treatment and torture while being imprisoned in a DC jail earlier this year.
Richard ‘Bigo’ Barnett, 61, claimed he was ‘tortured’ at the DC jail, citing episodes in which he was pushed head first into the concrete floor and held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day.
In one incident, when he felt he was having a heart attack in jail, the Capitol rioter who put his feet up on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk said he was laughed at and denied medical attention.
The allegations were made in a ’emergency request’ by Barnett’s attorney Joseph D. McBride calling on Amnesty International and the American Civil Liberties Union to investigate the treatment and alleged ‘human rights violations’ of Capitol rioters at the jail.
In April, Barnett, of Gravette, Arkansas, was freed from jail and ordered to remain in home detention pending trial for his role in the January 6 Capitol riot, which left five people dead.
The 61-year-old was charged with seven counts, including using a stun gun to knowingly enter or remain in any restricted facility or grounds without lawful authority.
He was photographed resting his feet on Pelosi’s desk and apparently writing her a note calling her a “b**ch.”
Following the incident, Barnett allegedly took a letter from the House Speaker’s office, boasting outside the Capitol that he “wrote a nasty note, put my feet up on her desk, and scratched my balls.”
In a letter dated August 3 from his lawyer, Barnett claims he was denied his civil rights while incarcerated.
According to the letter, he was exposed to “various psychological and emotional abuses,” such as being assaulted by staff, receiving threats against his wife, and being forced to live in “disgusting unsanitary conditions.”
He was also allegedly robbed of his stuff and subjected to sleep deprivation.
The Daily Mail reported:
In one alleged incident of torture, Barnett was denied medical help and was laughed at by prison guards when he believed he was having a heart attack.
‘One day, Richard began to feel tightness in his chest, pain in his left arm, and thought that he was having a heart attack, as such, he called for ‘help!” the letter read.
‘A guard came over to his cell, looked at Richard, and then proceeded to mock and laugh at him.’
Barnett was not given medical attention for a ‘significant’ period of time, his lawyer wrote – ‘certainly enough time for him to die’.
When the 61-year-old was returned to his cell still ill and asked staff to check on him, the guard who laughed at him earlier allegedly pounded on his cell door after he had fallen asleep.
‘This startled Richard so badly that he stood up fast, but because he was still not well, he fainted and hit his head on the sink,’ the lawyer wrote.
‘The guard saw this happen and left Richard a second time. Richard woke up with massive swelling and was bleeding from his head.’
Barnett was allegedly left screaming for medical attention for almost an hour until help came.
Held in solitary for 23 hours a day…
On another alleged occasion, a prison guard ‘made a sexually threatening comment’ toward him, the letter reads.
The guard then allegedly called Richard’s wife by her first name and ‘told Richard that he was going to get on a plane to Arkansas where he would sexually assault her as well’.
Barnett was also being held for around 23 hours a day in solitary confinement, with staff using the pandemic to justify the lockdown, his attorney claims.
“Slammed into the concrete floor”
In a third alleged incident, Barnett claims he was slammed into the concrete floor for asking a staff member to wear a mask in compliance with the COVID-19 rules in the jail.
Barnett claims he had asked a staffer to put on a face covering when the guard came near him.
‘That officer responded by verbally abusing and threatening Richard publicly in front of many witnesses, including family members who heard the commotion on the other end of the phones,’ the letter reads.
Barnett returned to his cell and, soon after, a group of around nine officers opened his door and told him to exit his cell, the letter says.
When he put out his hands to be cuffed and said he had done nothing wrong, Barnett claims he was cuffed, shackled, verbally abused and threatened with mace.
Barnett was then allegedly ‘jerked… back and forth with great force.’
The letter says Barnett then objected to the way he was being treated and ‘was lifted off of his feet by his shackles and slammed shoulder and head first into the concrete floor.’
The officers then allegedly charged Barnett with inciting a riot and was held in the hole for weeks up until the day he was released.
What Barnett is describing here appears to be heinous. I understand that he rioted in the Capitol, and I believe that all of the rioters should be held accountable for their conduct. In terms of actual criminality, his actions, which included federal trespassing, carrying a stun gun in a federal building, and stealing something from Pelosi’s office, were minor. With such brutal treatment, you’d believe he was a murderer or rapist.
Also, I’ve seen far more outrage from the media and political establishment regarding treatment of prisoners during the Iraq war at Abu Ghraib than you’ll ever see for these rioters.