Oldsmar, FL

Florida Man Arrested Carrying a Homemade Bomb While Loitering Near a Rally for an Incarcerated J6 Protester

Toby Hazlewood

His motives are as yet unclear

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Police have arrested a Florida man - Garrett James Smith of Oldsmar - on January 7 at a rally outside the Pinellas County Jail.

The rally was being held by supporters of J6 protester Jeremy Brown, a suspected member of the right-wing group Oath Keepers, who is in jail for his part in the riots at the Capitol building in 2021.There have been early reports that Smith may be a member of an Antifa group, looking to disrupt the rally but that has yet to be substantiated.

Smith was initially detained on a loitering charge after officers noticed him near the rally, dressed all in black and with his face covered. Upon searching him they found a homemade bomb in his backpack.

Another explosive device was later found during a search of his home.

The difficulty presented by 'sleeper' activists

Speaking at a press conference following the arrest, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri of the Pinellas County Sheriffs Department had this to say:

“Smith is what we call a sleeper, and these are the most concerning individuals because there are no opportunities to intervene and thwart their criminal activity before they actually act.”

As yet there hasn't been a formal identification of whatever group Smith claims to be part of. A piece of paper headed "Direct Action Checklist" was also found within Smith's backpack which would suggest he had an intent to disrupt the rally and potentially to cause harm to those at the event.

What consequences have there been for J6 insurrectionists

While some of those who stormed the Capitol on January 6 have been incarcerated or are jailed while awaiting sentencing, there are still many who are walking free while they await trial.

A report from May 2021 suggested that around 70% of those who were arrested have since been released while they await trial - compared to an average of 25% released while awaiting Federal trial for other crimes.

On the anniversary of the insurrection, Time reported that 725 people have been arrested for playing a part in the assault on the Capitol. 71 of those have received criminal sentences with the average length of sentence of 45 days.

The longest sentence handed down so far, is 63 months in prison for Florida man Robert Scott Palmer who was seen throwing wooden boards and a fire extinguisher at police officers.

Smith's motives remain as yet unclear. He has been charged with making and possessing a destructive device and loitering, and is being held on a $300,000 bond.

What do you think about the severity of sentences that have been handed to insurrectionists so far? Do you believe the J6 Commission is doing an adequate job, or should its investigations have concluded by now? Let me know in the comments section below.

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