WASHINGTON — A Delaware man who carried a large Confederate battle flag through the U.S. Capitol Building on Jan. 6 was ordered to serve 3 years in prison Thursday for obstructing the joint session of Congress.
Kevin Seefried, 53, of Laurel, was convicted in June alongside his son Hunter of one felony count of obstruction of an official proceeding and four misdemeanors for his role in the Capitol riot. Seefried became one of the most recognizable images of the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol after being captured by photographer Saul Loeb, of Agence France-Presse, carrying a large Confederate battle flag outside the Senate Chamber.
Both father and son were found guilty following a bench trial before U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden. Although Seefried was not charged with assaulting police, McFadden said in his ruling he was struck by a threatening conversation the older man had with U.S. Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman. Goodman testified during the trial that Seefried told him, “Where are they counting the votes at?” and “You can shoot me, but we’re coming in.” On Thursday, McFadden again highlighted that interaction.
"I can't tell you how appalling it was to watch a U.S. Capitol Police officer being chased by a mob," McFadden said. "It was a demeaning, humiliating spectacle for anyone who cares about law enforcement."
In a sentencing memo, prosecutors asked McFadden to order Seefried to serve 70 months – or nearly six years – in prison. They argued he “berated and harassed” officers after climbing through a broken window and joined the mob that chased Goodman.
Prosecutors' sentencing calculation relied on two significant enhancements for obstructing the administration of justice that McFadden had previously ruled don’t apply in Jan. 6 cases. He also sentenced Seefried’s son Hunter, who was convicted of the same charges, to 24 months in prison in October. The Iowa man who led the mob in chasing Goodman, QAnon believer Douglas Jensen, was sentenced in December to five years in prison by U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly.
In their own memo, Seefried’s attorneys asked for a sentence of no more than a year and a day, saying he had shown genuine remorse for his conduct and already suffered the consequence of his wife of 30 years leaving him following his conviction. They argued Seefried also did not understand the message he was sending by carrying the Confederate battle flag into the Capitol.
“Mr. Seefried’s relatives had always had the flag and he grew up around it. He was taught that the flag was a symbol of an idealized view of southern life and southern heritage,” the defense’s sentencing memo reads. “Lacking an education beyond the ninth grade and lacking even average intellectual capacity, Mr. Seefried did not appreciate the complex and, for many, painful, history behind the Confederate battle flag.”
Seefried’s attorneys said he now “unequivocally regrets” the emotions carrying the flag caused and is now “horrified that his image is out there on the internet in perpetuity for his grandchildren to potentially witness one day,”
Seefried himself spoke briefly Thursday, saying he was deeply sorry for his part in the riot and telling McFadden he'd gotten caught up in the momentum of the crowd. As in his sentencing memo, he said he was especially pained by the effect the case was likely to have on his grandchildren.
"I never wanted to send a message of hate," Seefried said.
As he had in Hunter Seefried's case, McFadden denied the application of the sentencing enhancements for obstruction of the administration of justice. But he also varied upward from the recommended sentencing guidelines, saying Seefried's conduct on Jan. 6 was among the most significant that had come before him.
"Sir, I hope you understand how deeply offensive, how troubling it is that you used a Confederate flag as a weapon against Officer Goodman," McFadden said.
Ultimately, the judge ordered Seefried to serve 36 months in prison, to be followed by a year of supervised release. Seefried will also have to pay $2,000 in restitution. McFadden agreed to allow Seefried to self-surrender and to recommend his placement at the federal correctional facility in Allenwood, Pennsylvania.
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