November 29, 2022

UNEQUAL JUSTICE: How did this reporter wind up with a longer sentence than any Jan 6th defendant?

UNEQUAL JUSTICE: Journalist who stabbed Proud Boys gets harsher sentence than any Jan 6th insurrectionist

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A New York Judge has sentenced a reporter to 20 years in prison for stabbing two members of the far-right nationalist group The Proud Boys during a January 6th, 2021 brawl at the New York State Capitol.

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According to acting NY Supreme Court Justice Roger McDonough, the attack was politically motivated, and “toxicity in the body politic,” spurred the incident.

Judge McDonough concluded that defendant Alexander Contompasis went to the Albany “Stop the Steal” rally “ready, willing, and able,” to engage in violence with the insurrectionists.

“That’s exactly what the defendant did. He violently, brutally stabbed political opponents of his – one of whom he eviscerated,” McDonough said to the Contompasis, who was seated next to his defense attorney Jasper Mills.

“This wasn’t just a simple stab or an accidental stab or a ‘poke’ as the defendant attempted to describe it in his testimony. These were violent knife attacks,” Mills added.

What the judge conveniently leaves out is the existence of the Proud Boys, to begin with.

Multiple members of the right-wing militia are awaiting trial for seditious conspiracy, including its former leader Enrique Tarrio.

A Justice Department investigation and a congressional probe into events leading up to the violent attack have revealed a detailed plan of violence and disruption on the day the electoral count was to be certified.

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Contompasis has maintained that his presence at the New York Capitol on Jan. 6th was simply to document the rally as a freelance reporter.

“Independent journalists don’t carry knives,” the judge said. “This defendant did.”

McDonough seems to have missed the increasing attacks on reporters and media during the past six years – encouraged by the incendiary rhetoric of those on the right, including ex-President Donald Trump – putting their lives in danger with willful disregard.

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But the judge sought to “both sides,” the issue, accusing Contompasis of attacking the seditionists simply because they have a “different” political view while ignoring the fact that Proud Boys tried to disrupt an official governmental proceeding and subvert democracy because they didn’t agree with the results of the 2020 election, credibly threatening lives of the sitting Vice President, and Speaker of the House – in the line of succession to the presidency.

“There are loud and strident fringes on both sides of the political spectrum,” McDonough said, “who believe that anyone who holds opinions different from their own are not only wrong but that they’re evil and that they must be silenced and driven from the public square, that they can’t be heard.”

One of the Proud Boys testified that he was left with not only “several physical scars and pain but several mental and emotional scars as well.”

“I was nearly killed for simply expressing my constitutional rights under the First Amendment,” he said.

140 police officers simply doing their jobs on January 6th were injured in the brutal assault – and over a half dozen people lost their lives as a result.

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Arguments made by the prosecuting attorney and the judge, dismissing the defendant’s claims of self-defense, are reminiscent of another case – that of Kenosha shooter, Kyle Rittenhouse who shot and killed two people and injuring a third – after driving across state lines and ultimately opening fire on social justice protesters in the Wisconsin city after the police shooting of Jacob Black in the back multiple times.

They argued the fact that Contompasis brought a knife, to “prove” malicious intent, rather than the independent reporter merely preparing himself for a potentially life-threatening situation – a justification used by right-wing gun nuts who parade around draped in assault rifles to grab a coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts.

Sentenced to 12 years for first-degree assault in one stabbing and eight years for attempted first-degree assault in the other, Contompasis withheld comment on the judge’s ruling.

Original reporting by Robert Gavin at The Albany Times Union. 

Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick

Ty Ross

News journalist for Washington Press and Occupy Democrats.

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