Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Oregon man sentenced to more than 3 years in prison for U.S. Capitol breach

By Maxine Bernstein The Oregonian

An Oregon man identified as one of the first people to push past police and enter the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, was sentenced Friday to three years and five months in federal prison.

Richard L. Harris, 43, of Happy Valley, was convicted in June of civil disorder, assaulting an officer and disorderly conduct.

Harris took a selfie video just before entering the building, boasting he was in the “front (expletive) line baby, we’re storming the Capitol,” according to prosecutors.

Harris then marched to the Rotunda, physically assaulted a Metropolitan Police Department officer, was seen picking up a phone and threatening that he and others were “coming for” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence and climbed on the statue of U.S. President Gerald R. Ford, according to prosecutors. One court exhibit showed Harris’ arm draped around the statue of President Ford.

In a video played in court, Harris told an officer who appeared to be blocking his path that, “You’re outnumbered. There’s a (expletive) million of us out there, and we’re listening to ‘Trump, your boss,’” according to prosecutors.

Harris was arrested on March 18, 2021, in Florida.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura E. Hill called Harris “a significant figure” in the attack on the Capitol.

“He breached the building less than two minutes after the initial breach at the Senate Wing Door; he remained inside the building for over an hour and twenty minutes; while inside, he demonstrated a lack of respect for the Capitol building—climbing at least five different statues—and for law enforcement,” she wrote to the court.

She said he also threatened and pushed a U.S. Capitol police sergeant and grabbed the baton of a Metropolitan Police lieutenant and forced the lieutenant into an “angry crowd of rioters.”

His assistant federal public defender, Eric Cohen, argued in court filings that the government didn’t show Harris had met with anyone beforehand to organize the protests or that he had stormed barricades, caused physical harm to anyone, entered either chamber of Congress or vandalized property “except for his sophomoric attempt to adorn President Ford’s statue.”

“Concededly, Mr. Harris’s behavior in and around the Capitol on January 6th was boisterous and, at times, buffoonish. But he was neither violent nor destructive,” Cohen wrote in his sentencing memo.

Although Harris pretended to speak with Speaker Pelosi and Vice President Pence, “he sought out neither,” Cohen wrote.

“He did not intend to do battle with law enforcement officers. He did not intend to threaten members of Congress. And he certainly did not intend to topple the United States government. He intended simply to express – perhaps too exuberantly – his displeasure with how that government was functioning,” Cohen wrote to the court.

Harris was convicted in June by U.S. District Judge Carl J. Nichols after a three-day bench trial in the District of Columbia on 11 charges, including obstruction of an official proceeding; civil disorder; assaulting, resisting or impeding officers; entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly or disruptive conduct; engaging in physical violence in a restrictive building or grounds; disorderly conduct in a Capitol Building, and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.

Before March 2020, Harris lived with his father and worked for Amazon, according to a transcript of court testimony. During the pandemic, he left Amazon because he feared he might infect his father, who he was living with at the time, according to Cohen. He relocated to Oregon and was living there before he took the trip to Washington, D.C., in early 2021, according to prosecutors.

On Dec. 20, 2020, Harris also was present at a protest at the Oregon Capitol, “where he shoved a journalist who was taking photos” of the event, but was never charged with any crime, according to court testimony.

Harris is among more than 1,100 people who have faced criminal prosecution in relation to the 2021 breach of the U.S. Capitol.