A 24-year-old Pennsylvania woman who barged into then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office during the January 6, 2021, US Capitol riot was sentenced Thursday to three years in prison after a federal judge ridiculed the idea she was “a little girl.”
Riley Williams was convicted in November of several counts including resisting or impeding an officer, civil disorder, and disorderly conduct in the Capitol building and grounds.
“I’m sorry, Riley June Williams was old enough and tall enough on January 6,” District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said Thursday. “And to the extent that she comes off as fragile or weak, that all goes away when she opens her mouth.”
Williams, who was a follower of the White nationalist alt-right figure Nick Fuentes at the time of the riot, directed members of the mob to push against the police during the attack, Jackson said. Specifically, Williams looked for large men and individuals who wore military gear to go to the front of the line, according to court documents.
Jackson ridiculed William’s defense lawyers for suggesting during the trial that Williams was too young and small to be fully responsible for her actions that day, and that Williams was merely following orders from men like Fuentes and former President Donald Trump.
“I’m being told she’s a little girl,” Jackson said of Williams, calling the claim “so blown out of proportion when we’re talking about a high school graduate.”
Jackson noted that Williams was “old enough to be one of the police officers she resisted,” and said that Williams, Amanda Gorman (the poet who performed at Biden’s inauguration) and Fuentes were all born the same year.
Jackson also lambasted any suggestion from defense lawyers that Williams didn’t know that she was in the Capitol or didn’t know that Congress was scheduled to certify the electoral college on January 6.
“She was there to stop the election, not because her dizzy little head was confused about which building in Washington was which or why she was there,” Jackson said. Williams was “hand picking the people who had the proper gear” and “the size” to act as the front-line battling police, Jackson said, adding that Riley was “taking control” and “not just a little waif blowing in the wind.”
Before being sentenced, Williams apologized to the judge and those at the Capitol during the riot for her actions.
“I was disrespectful, hateful … toward innocent people who didn’t deserve it,” Williams said, adding that she was a “stupid girl” at the time and is now a “responsible woman” accepting her guilt.
A mistrial was declared on two felony counts in November, including the government’s charge that Riley aided and abetted in the theft of the laptop from Pelosi’s office, after the jury failed to reach a verdict.
Williams’ online messages and postings after the riot – where she bragged about her strategy that day and falsely claimed she stole Pelosi’s hard drive – were used against her in trial. On Thursday, Williams said she had been addicted to the internet but has since “found peace in a quiet life.”
Her family, including her father who drove her to Washington, DC, that day, were present in the courtroom during the sentencing.