When extremist supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the United States Capitol on January 6—beating police officers, shattering windows, smearing excrement across the walls and ransacking congressional office buildings—they caused tens of millions of dollars in damage.
This is, of course, only in property damages. Ensuing investigations, enhanced security, subsequent funding bills, and other factors have boosted the cost of the deadly failed insurrection to hundreds of millions of dollars for American taxpayers.
Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell of Washington wondered recently why the Justice Department has only asked for a collective $1.5 million worth of damages in its prosecution against the hundreds of arrested Capitol rioters.
During a plea hearing for one of the rioters, charged with four nonviolent misdemeanors, Howell mused:
"I'm accustomed to the government being fairly aggressive in terms of fraud when there have been damages that accrue from a criminal act for the restitution amount. ... Where we have Congress acting, appropriating all this money due directly to the events of January 6, I have found the damage amount of less than $1.5 million — when all of us American taxpayers are about to foot the bill for close to half a billion dollars — a little bit surprising."
Currently, the U.S. Attorney's office is only seeking $2000 for each felony case and $500 for each misdemeanor case, according to the Washington Post.
Given that, had the rioters succeeded in their desired outcome, a number of lawmakers would be dead and American democracy would've failed, Howell seems to think the the proposed punishments are too lenient to fit the crimes.
Others on social media agreed.
But the calls for punishment against those who incited the violence in the first place are even stronger.
Over 500 people have been arrested for their involvement in the