By Richard Sullins |

A Sanford man has been sentenced to serve 45 days in a U.S. District of Columbia jail in connection with his arrest on January 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C. following the riot at the United States Capitol, in addition to other sanctions.

Jere Dement Brower of Sanford was arrested along with several other persons on the grounds of the Capitol at 7:20 p.m. that evening for violating a curfew that had been imposed by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. A statement from an officer of the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia said that the group had been warned three times to leave the Capitol campus or face arrest.

After being taken to a police station to be arraigned for the crime, Brower asserted his constitutional right for a trial by jury. The case moved through the judicial system for two and a half years until April of this year, when Brower changed his plea to guilty to the charge of unlawful entry to public property.

Judge Erik Christian sentenced Brower to 180 days in jail for being on the Capitol grounds unlawfully and then suspended all but 45 of those days, which he ordered Brower to serve behind bars. Christian also sentenced Brower to two years of supervised probation.

Christian’s sentence will also require Brower to perform 100 hours of community service, pay a $100 fine under the Victims of Violent Crime Act, and abide by an order requiring that he stay at least 100 yards away from persons who are unnamed in the public portion of the court record. He must make payment of the VVCA fine no later than one month after his release from jail.

Court documents indicate that Brower and another man, David Ross, entered the grounds of the Capitol much earlier than they told officers. Photographs obtained by police during a search of Brower’s cell phone show several images of him on the National Mall and on the slope that leads to the west entrances of the Capitol around the time that protestors overwhelmed police and breached the building. Other pictures taken from his phone include close-up views of impending confrontations with U.S. Capitol Police by the mob as it surged toward the building’s entrances.

Jere Brower photographed on January 6, 2021. Source: U.S. Attorney’s Office

Brower, Ross, and five others were warned by a police bullhorn three times to get off the Capitol grounds on January 6, starting at 7:17 p.m. When they refused, officers moved in, and the group was taken into custody in the 100 block of Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

The sheer number of cases that resulted from the insurrection has slowed the federal judicial system to a crawl in many areas of the country. More than 1,000 persons who were present in the mob on January 6, and who were observed breaking the law have been charged with federal crimes as a result of their actions. At least 500 of them have either entered guilty pleas or been found guilty.

Brower claimed he was not at the Capitol complex when the riot began early that afternoon. But in a document filed with the court by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andy Wang, a number of photographs found on Brower’s own cell phone show him on the slope of Capitol Hill in the immediate area where the fighting broke out.

At least 25 North Carolina residents have been charged so far in the case.

One of them, David Joseph Gietzen of Sanford, has a case which also seems to be heading to a conclusion. Gietzen is charged with eight counts of violating federal law, two of them felonies.

Gietzen was identified in nearly two dozen photographs by people who saw his image on the FBI’s website. An affidavit filed by the arresting agent said some of the images show Gietzen trying to intimidate officers by yelling directly into their faces, attempting, along with others, to push those officers out of the way, and assaulting them with his hands and with a long pole. A trial for Gietzen has been set for August 28.