A grandmother began serving her two-month sentence Tuesday at a California prison for her participation in the January 6, 2001, Capitol riot.
Pamela Hemphill, 69, of Boise, Idaho, was sentenced May 24 to two months in prison, followed by three years probation, by Washington, D.C., District Court Judge Royce Lamberth. Hemphill was further instructed to pay $500 in restitution.
Hemphill was originally charged with four offenses by the Justice Department, which was reduced to one count as part of a plea deal. The December 15, 2021, agreement dismissed three other charges in return for her pleading guilty to parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.
The grandmother reportedly has no prior criminal history, and her daughter claims she is battling breast cancer. Lamberth reportedly said her age, health and clean record initially inclined him to be very lenient, but then he watched videos and saw other evidence he said made him think about giving her a severe sentence.
“Many protested without engaging the police,” the prosecutor in her case said, according to a KTVB7 report. “This defendant did not choose to take things in from a distance.”
Hemphill recorded video as many people moved closer to the Capitol building prior to the riot.
The court saw a video that included audio of Hemphill telling a police officer, “I have to get out of that crowd,” adding she had undergone surgery and was a journalist. The officer directed her to a safer area.
“You just come in, that’s all you do,” Hemphill was heard soon after telling people in the crowd. “This is your house, your house. Haven’t you had enough with the (expletive)?”
“These are not the actions of a citizen journalist,” the prosecutor argued, “these are the actions of a rioter.”
The Class B misdemeanor she agreed to plead guilty to carried a maximum sentence of six months imprisonment, followed by up to five years probation and possible fines up to $5,000. So, Lamberth did show leniency.
Hemphill’s daughter reportedly drove her to the Federal Correctional Institution, Dublin near Oakland, California, Tuesday. The daughter posted to Twitter a video of her mother in the car prior to entering the prison.
“Mom, how do you feel?” the daughter asked her.
“Scared to death,” Hemphill replied. “I’m frightened, but I know God’s with me. Just going to take it five minutes at a time, one day at a time.”
Her daughter asked her if she had anything she wanted to say to the American people before she entered prison.
“Just keep your faith no matter what’s going on in your life,” Hemphill remarked. “God’s with us no matter what’s happening to us. It’s gonna be OK in our lives if we just lean on God and trust — do what’s right and help make this country better again.
The convicted woman also urged viewers to support the many January 6 protesters who are locked up without a trial date or hearing.
“God bless you all.”
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