Affidavits aren’t supposed to be emotional documents — but often, they can be. What they’re supposed to be is cold fact, especially in criminal proceedings. On this date, this person was seen or said to have committed such-and-such act. But the beautiful and living thing about language is that emotion often finds a way to punch through even those documents which aim to be sterile.
When you read the affidavit of the charging officer in Dawn Bancroft’s case, you get a lot of emotion that maybe you’re not supposed to be getting. But there it is anyway: exasperation, consternation, maybe even a little bit of proper disgust, and above all, a kind of insistence that, in these clear facts and the circumstances and tone in which they were done, that this officer cannot even believe the measly charges Bancroft is being accused of — essentially public disturbance.
And yesterday, when Bancroft appeared in court to please guilty to one count of illegally parading, demonstrating, or picketing in the Capitol, the judge couldn’t quite believe it, either, especially given a video that Bancroft had made, wherein she expressed her desire, while trespassing in the Capitol on January 6th as violence unfolded around her, that she was there to “shoot Nancy [Pelosi] in the friggin’ brain.”
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan wanted to know why she was faced with such a minor charge, which will carry at the most a six month sentence. And then he expanded on why:
“It is very troubling to hear someone say the reason they entered the Capitol on January 6th was essentially to murder the speaker of the House. Iit is very troubling. […]
I don`t want to in any way minimize the very troubling nature of a pretty outrageous statement. […]
So many people up until January were outstanding members of the community, never been in trouble. But on January 6th, they morphed into — they morphed into terrorists.”
This is more or less how Rachel Maddow led off her show on Tuesday night, just hours after news had broken and Bancroft’s charge — and the judge’s incredulous reaction — had made the Doylestown crossfit trainer one of the noisier Jan. 6th cases to come to court to date, and certainly the most famous one to come out of Bucks County yet.
Which is saying something. Because, proportionally, Bucks has turned out to be home for a good number of the accused insurrectionists. More than anyone’s fair share, you might say.
But the headlines have been rolling in:
Buzzfeed: A Judge Questioned Why The Government Didn’t Charge A Capitol Rioter Who Talked About Shooting Pelosi With A Harsher Crime
Washington Post: Woman who said she wanted to shoot Pelosi in the ‘brain’ pleads guilty to misdemeanor
And so on. All of this is coming as the very first of the Jan. 6 court cases are winding up with jail time. Like Bancroft’s charges themselves, these sentences are paltry at best. (To borrow a phrase from Twitter: Watch whiteness work.) And it’s a dubious honor to be sure that Bancroft now rolls with in Bucks, presently rife with nutjobs of every flavor the GOP umbrella currently contains. It’s also one that she probably doesn’t want.
After all, she hasn’t been sentenced yet.