Robert Packer: Man who wore ‘Camp Auschwitz’ sweatshirt during US Capitol riots sentenced to 75 days in jail


Robert Packer pleaded guilty in January. Images of Packer inside the Capitol gained national attention as the riot unfolded and became a symbol of many other incidents that have similarly expressed white supremacist and anti-Semitic views.

“Jan. 6 was not an ordinary violent incident,” District Judge Carl Nichols said Thursday. “It was what obstructed the voter count and obstructed the peaceful transition of power. It is the peaceful transition of power that allows us to have a democracy.”

Prosecutors say Packer traveled from Virginia to attend a pro-Trump rally on Jan. 6 and entered the Capitol only six minutes after the initial break-in, despite seeing broken windows and rioters fighting police. He spent about 20 minutes walking through the Capitol, during which time he witnessed repeated confrontations with police.

The 75-day sentence is harsh compared to other incidents where they were found guilty of the same crime and not charged with violence. Packer’s lengthy criminal history contributed to that decision, Nichols said. The judge added that the other defendants on January 6, who he sentenced more leniently, were not “as close to violence as Mr. Packer, or certainly aware of it.”

Nichols also said that since Packer “didn’t tell us” why he wore anti-Semitic clothing, “we have to conclude that there was an improper reason why he decided to wear such a truly offensive sweatshirt.”

Prosecutor Mona Furst said Packer “posted his beliefs on his clothes that day” and “had this outfit with his beliefs on the back.” [Packer] He has attacked the government that has given him the freedom to express those beliefs, no matter how abhorrent they may be.”

Packer’s lawyer Stephen Brennwald agreed at the hearing that while there was “no question that his shirt was offensive”, the clothes were a “free speech issue” and should not be considered as part of the sentence.

“Would Mr. Packer look the same if he had short hair, no beard, and a Nike shirt?” asked Brennwald.