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An Insurrectionist Underwear Model Is Finally Having His January 6 Trial

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John Strand could face 25 years in prison.

The image from the US Capitol riot on January 6, 2021 has been kicking around the internet for a year and a half. The centerpiece is anti-vaccine activist Simone Gold, founder of America’s Frontline Doctors, a group that has spent the past two years spreading misinformation about Covid. She’s with John Strand, an international underwear model and the spokesman for the doctors’ group. They are positioned at the front of an angry mob that has just broken down the door to the Rotunda, where a US Capitol Police officer attempts to hold them off. A hand reaches up and grabs the officer by the collar and pulls him to the ground. Gold and Strand push past and swarm into the Capitol with the rest of the rioters.

The image was striking for many reasons, but especially because Gold, a board-certified emergency room physician and a Stanford-educated lawyer, did nothing to assist the fallen officer. Others in the mob ultimately help him to his feet, but only after he had lost consciousness. Since the incident, Officer Joshua Pollitt has largely remained anonymous, but on Wednesday, he appeared in US District Court for the District of Columbia to testify in Strand’s trial on criminal charges related to the storming of the Capitol. 

His emotional testimony was harrowing, as was the full video footage of the episode played for the jury. During the riot, Pollitt was with a group of officers guarding the East Capitol rotunda door, which is rarely open to the public. On the stand, he described how a rioter maced him in the eye during the confrontation, where he and his colleagues were violently outnumbered. Jurors watched the video in which rioters chanted “Stand down, let us in,” while Pollitt tried to hold the doors closed. At one point, smoke appears and Pollitt explained that officers had deployed a flash bang to try to repel the angry mob; it had little effect.

Gold and Strand were at the front of that angry mob, which pushed Pollitt against the door, pinning his hands at his sides. “I was crushed against the doorway,” he said, explaining that he lost consciousness and went down. “I was terrified that one of the rioters was going to get my gun and use it on one of my fellow officers.”

Since their arrest less than two weeks after the riot, Gold and Strand have tried to frame themselves as free speech warriors, claiming that they were merely engaging in peaceful protest when they entered the Capitol on January 6. But what the fallen Capitol police officer described was anything but peaceful, and the video footage backed him up. Prosecutors pointed out the presence of men in Kevlar tactical gear with military-grade gas masks. “In your experience, do people usually wear Kevlar to the Capitol?” prosecutor Jason Manning asked US Capitol Police Sergeant Nelson Vargas during his testimony. “It’s not allowed,” he replied. 

In the face of overwhelming documentary evidence of her participation in the riot, not to mention her acknowledgment to the Washington Post shortly after the event that she’d been inside the building, Gold quickly pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor charge of unlawfully entering and remaining in a restricted area of the US Capitol. In June, she was sentenced to 60 days in prison. Earlier this month, she was released early with time off for good behavior. When she emerged from the prison gate, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) presented her with an American flag that had hung over the Capitol building she had helped to sack.

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