A Texas real estate agent who bragged that her “blonde hair” and “white skin” would keep her out of jail despite participating in the insurrection was sentenced to 60 days in prison Thursday.
U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper acknowledged that while Jan. 6 defendant Jenna Ryan played a “lesser role” in the crimes that occurred during the insurrection than many other defendants, that does not negate her “culpability in what happened that day.”
“I don’t think you could have missed the fact that this was no peaceful protest,” Cooper said, according to HuffPost’s Ryan J. Reilly. “You were a cheerleader, you cheered it on.”
On Jan. 6, according to the FBI, Ryan posted a number of videos to Facebook that showed her participating in the insurrection after she took a private plane to D.C. Even before heading to the Capitol, she shared a video of herself talking to a bathroom mirror and saying, “We’re gonna go down and storm the Capitol. … That’s why we came, and so that’s what we are going to do.”
Later that day, Ryan joined a group of Trump supporters walking to the Capitol and shared photos of herself on the grounds — including in front of a broken Capitol window — to Facebook. “Window at the capital [sic],” she wrote, adding, “And if the news doesn’t stop lying about us we’re going to come after their studios next.” Ryan even broadcast on Facebook as she entered the Capitol.
“We just stormed the Capital [sic]. It was one of the best days of my life,” she posted to Facebook after the event.
Ryan wrote a letter to the judge to explain her actions and possibly vie for a shorter sentence. “Some actions I took that day were good,” the letter said, according to HuffPost. “I came to DC to protest the election results. I wanted my voice to be heard. My only weapon was my voice and my cell phone.”
She also explained in the letter her now-infamous tweet that said because she had “blonde hair white skin a great job a great future and I’m not going to jail.”
Definitely not going to jail. Sorry I have blonde hair white skin a great job a great future and I'm not going to jail. Sorry to rain on your hater parade. I did nothing wrong
— Jenna Ryan (@dotjenna) March 26, 2021
“I wasn’t saying I was above prison, I just felt that it would be unlikely since I was pleading to entering the Capitol for 2 minutes and 8 seconds,” she wrote. “Now I realize that was a false notion, but having a false notion does not automatically mean I deserve incarceration. A tweet of me taking up for myself against a bully who is harassing me does not indicate that I feel above-the-law.”
The government, however, argued that Ryan’s lack of remorse and belief that she wouldn’t be incarcerated are a reason to sentence her with prison time. “A defendant who believes she is immune from strict punishment because of her race and physical appearance may reoffend because the consequences for wrongdoing will never, in the defendant’s mind, be severe even when severity is merited,” prosecutors argued. “Perhaps the most compelling need for specific deterrence arises from the defendant’s misguided belief that she is above the law, or at least insulated from incarceration.”
The judge seemed to agree. “You’ve been very upfront that you feel no sense of shame or guilt,” Cooper said. “You suggested antifa was somehow involved. And perhaps most famously, you said that because you had blonde hair and white skin, you wouldn’t be going to jail.”
Explaining his decision to sentence Ryan to 60 days, Cooper said, according to The Washington Post: “I think the sentence should tell them that we take it seriously, that it was an assault on our democracy … and that it should never happen again.”