It’s Time for a Jan. 6 Amnesty, Mr. President - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
It’s Time for a Jan. 6 Amnesty, Mr. President

At last night’s State of the Union speech, President Biden claimed that freedom will always triumph over tyranny. He was talking about Ukraine, of course, in a speech that made one wonder if Biden knows whether he’s their president or ours.

Matthew Perna, a schoolteacher from Sharon, Pennsylvania, wasn’t around to hear it.

You’ve likely never heard of Matthew Perna, and were this a sane country you never would have. Matthew Perna was not an exceptional man.

That isn’t intended as an insult. By all indications Perna was a good guy and a patriot. But he wasn’t famous, and he wasn’t going to be.

About the only thing about Perna that would have brought him into the public eye was what happened on January 6, 2021.

Like hundreds of thousands of Americans, Perna was disturbed by the irregularities of the 2020 election — unsettled enough that he participated in a mass protest in Washington, D.C., on that day.

You don’t have to be a supporter of everything that happened on January 6 to recognize that the Biden regime’s reaction to it has been disgracefully out of proportion and flat-out evil.

Perna, like hundreds of his fellow protesters, entered the U.S. Capitol. He didn’t break in. He was waved in by the Capitol Police. He had no weapons, and he attacked no one. He took pictures inside the building. He even stayed within the rope lines. And by the time Perna entered the Capitol, Congress had halted its joint session to certify the presidential election and left the hall. He disrupted nothing and hurt no one.

But that trip inside the Capitol turned into a disastrous event in the 37-year-old’s life.

From Perna’s obituary in his local paper, the Sharon Herald, after he hanged himself in his garage on Friday:

He attended the rally on Jan. 6, 2021, to peacefully stand up for his beliefs. After learning that the FBI was looking for him, he immediately turned himself in. He entered the Capitol through a previously opened door (he did not break in as was reported). He didn’t break, touch, or steal anything. He did not harm anyone, as he stayed within the velvet ropes taking pictures. For this act he has been persecuted by many members of his community, friends, relatives, and people who had never met him. Many people were quietly supportive, and Matt was truly grateful for them. The constant delays in hearings, and postponements dragged out for over a year. Because of this, Matt’s heart broke and his spirit died. Matt did not have a hateful bone in his body. He embraced people of all races, income brackets, and beliefs, never once berating anyone for having different views.

The charges Perna faced bore no real relation to his conduct. He was charged with a felony count of obstruction of an official proceeding, something which wasn’t possible since no such proceeding was happening when he entered the Capitol, and three trespassing misdemeanors — after being waved into the building by the Capitol Police.

But the Biden Justice Department was insistent on throwing the book at Matthew Perna. As American Greatness’ Julie Kelly wrote:

So, who is responsible for the death of Matthew Perna? After speaking with his attorney, J. Gerald Ingram, it appears the chief villain is Matthew Graves, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. Graves, according to Ingram, planned to seek a lengthy prison sentence for Perna after he pleaded guilty to all four charges. “What drove him over the edge was the government announced it would seek an eight-level enhancement [to his sentence] for threatening to cause physical injury to a person in order to obstruct the administration of justice,” Ingram told me by phone on Monday. That was the same sentencing enhancement the Justice Department sought for Jacob Chansley.

Perna, of course, did nothing of the sort. But if Graves had gotten his way, Perna would have faced 57 to 71 months in prison, an outrageous sentence for an individual who committed no violent crime and has no criminal record. (Graves sought 51 months for Chansley.) Ingram called the Justice Department’s handling of January 6 cases “horribly inconsistent” and said it seemed that Perna had been “singled out for some reason.”

Perhaps it was because he wore a “Make America Great Again” sweatshirt on January 6.

Perna was actually one of the lucky ones. He only lost his job and his friends abandoned him out of fear of associating with him. Others who peacefully entered the Capitol that day have been imprisoned without bail or trial for more than a year. Who knows what kind of body count might come from their ordeal?

By any objective standard these people, who at worst are trespassers, are political prisoners. You don’t have to be a supporter of everything that happened on January 6 to recognize that the Biden regime’s reaction to it has been disgracefully out of proportion and flat-out evil. (READ MORE: Nancy Pelosi’s January 6th Select Committee Hoax)

As his State of the Union speech stumbled along interminably, Biden implored his audience to “stop seeing each other as enemies” and then claimed he had a “unity agenda” (which contained little that anyone would appreciate as such) to offer the American people. Well, Mr. President, that’s an excellent sentiment, and one you could actually lead on and help to unify the country.

If Biden really wanted to unify the country and make us stop seeing each other as enemies, then maybe one way to start would be to recognize that what happened to Matthew Perna isn’t worthy of America and doesn’t reflect well on his administration. To recognize that holding hundreds of political prisoners under attack by his Justice Department a year on from the Jan. 6 protests is creating an open, bleeding wound which will only get worse.

Biden should deliberately and justly turn down the temperature by declaring an amnesty for Perna’s surviving colleagues before more sad episodes like his begin to stack up.

Make it stop, Mr. President. You have the power to do that, and, now that the body count is climbing, you have the responsibility.

Scott McKay
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Scott McKay is a contributing editor at The American Spectator  and publisher of the Hayride, which offers news and commentary on Louisiana and national politics, and, a national political news aggregation and opinion site. Additionally, he's the author of the new book The Revivalist Manifesto: How Patriots Can Win The Next American Era, available at He’s also a writer of fiction — check out his three Tales of Ardenia novels Animus, Perdition and Retribution at Amazon. Scott's other project is The Speakeasy, a free-speech social and news app with benefits - check it out here.
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