William arrived at the Capitol steps with other Oath Keepers with whom he had gathered that day. Neither William or any of the Oath Keepers he was with were armed in any way or planned to engage in any sort of physical confrontation. The Oath Keepers organization that William joined was not held out as any sort of extremist or paramilitary organization. Rather, it was promoted as a group of retired firefighters, police men and women, and military from all branches. The group William was with on January 6th fit that profile. There was no planning of violence. There were no preplanned assaults or plans of illegal activity of any kind. Indeed, the role of the Oath Keepers, as relayed to William and others, was to keep the peace and render care to those who might need it.
There are bad apples in every barrel. But that does make the entire barrel bad. Neither William nor most of the others who marched towards the Capitol on January 6th had reason to know that some people would get out of hand and create a pretext for the media to cast everyone who questioned the establishment in a bad light.
When William arrived at the Capital steps, he was pushed with the crowd towards the doors on the Eastside of the Capital. While media has widely broadcast photos from the Westside, there were no barricades on the Eastside, no “do not enter” signs, no signs or signals of any sort indicating that the Capital was closed.
And it was not closed. Capitol hill employees opened the doors and waved people inside. William and the people he was with had no reason to even imagine they were breaking the law by entering the Capital, a place William had visited before to see a statute of one of his ancestral family members who had fought in the American revolution.
When William went inside the Capitol building on January 6, the doors were not barred. William followed others inside without any knowledge or belief that his actions were in any way improper.
Once inside the Capital, William walked around taking photos of himself and people around him. These were not the acts of someone who believed he was committing a crime. They were the acts of a 21 year-old who was believed his actions were appropriate. While he was fueled by the adrenaline that inspires any mass gathering of people, he did not behave inappropriately. He did not hurt anything or anyone. He did not break the law.
There were some bad people at the Capital on January 6th. They were also some good people who did some bad things that day. But there were also some good people who did not do anything wrong. And William is in this latter group. William did not take or damage any property or engage in violence or physical altercations with anyone. He came, he saw, he filmed, he left.
And now William is in a fight for his freedom and for his future.