Capitol rioter draped in Confederate flag pleads guilty
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — A Maryland man who was draped in a Confederate flag when he stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, pleaded guilty Wednesday to joining the attack as a mob disrupted Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s election as president.
Matthew Ryan Miller, 23, sprayed a fire extinguisher at law enforcement officers who were trying to prevent rioters from entering the building, according to a summary of the case signed by Miller. Video also captured Miller throwing an unidentifiable object toward officers, prosecutors said.
Miller is scheduled to be sentenced on May 23 in federal court. He pleaded guilty to felony charges of obstruction of an official proceeding and assaulting, resisting or impeding police officers.
Miller was freed after his arrest last year, but U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss ordered him to be detained until his sentencing. He must report to jail by Feb. 23.
Miller traveled to Washington from his home in Cooksville, Maryland. He wore a black cowboy hat, a Washington Capitals jersey and both the Maryland state flag and the Gadsden flag, which features a yellow background and hissing snake, tied around his neck.
After using a metal barrier as a ladder to scale a Capitol wall, Miller urged others in the mob to join him in pushing against law enforcement officers on the Lower West Terrace. Miller waved his hand and said, “Come on,” as the mob chanted “Heave! Ho!” and rocked back and forth in pushing towards the tunnel entrance that law enforcement officers were guarding. Miller put up his fingers as he yelled, “One, two, three, push!”
He also sprayed the fire extinguisher at officers in the tunnel. Prosecutors say another rioter, Robert Palmer, picked up the same fire extinguisher, sprayed the contents at officers and then threw it at them. Palmer was sentenced in December to five years and three months in prison.
Miller has attended at least one rally by the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group, but investigators found no evidence that he acted in concert with other group members on Jan. 6, according to prosecutors. He also self-identifies as a member of a group called the “Patriotic American Cowboys,” prosecutors said.
“If nothing else, the events of January 6, 2021, have exposed the size and determination of right-wing fringe groups in the United States, and their willingness to place themselves and others in danger to further their political ideology,” an assistant U.S. attorney, Kaitlin Vaillancourt, wrote in a court filing last year.
More than 730 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the riot. More than 210 of them have pleaded guilty, mostly to misdemeanors with a maximum penalty of 6 months imprisonment.