‘Camp Auschwitz’ rioter pleads guilty to illegally entering Capitol


A man seen on Reddit during the Capitol rioting was identified as Robert Keith Packer of Virginia and taken into custody. Left: A noose hung by rioters during the rioting in Washington, Jan. 6, 2021. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

Arno Rosenfeld, The Forward

This story was originally published on January 26, by The Forward. Sign up here to get the latest stories from The Forward delivered to you each morning.

Robert Keith Packer, the man who wore a sweatshirt mocking the Holocaust during the riot at the United States Capitol last January, pleaded guilty Wednesday to illegally entering the building and protesting inside.

Packer appeared by video in federal district court in Washington, D.C., for a brief hearing during which he acknowledged that he had entered the Capitol while it was closed for the electoral college vote count on Jan. 6, 2021 and was in the building when a protester was shot by Capitol police.

Robert Keith Packer

“He entered the building despite seeing broken windows and tear gas being deployed,” federal prosecutor Mona Furst told the court. Furst said Packer spent approximately 20 minutes in the building.

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Images of Packer inside the Capitol went viral on Jan. 6. They showed the Virginia man with long brown hair and an unkempt beard wearing a black sweatshirt meant to make light of Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp where 1 million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust.

The sweatshirt featured a skull and rowing oars and read: “Camp Auschwitz: Work Brings Freedom.” The FBI arrested Packer in Newport News, Virginia, shortly after the riot and found a cache of Nazi memorabilia at his home.

Packer said little at the plea hearing. His attorney said he did not have a driver’s license and was largely stuck at home.

To date, federal prosecutors have charged more than 700 people for participating in the Jan. 6 insurrection, in which a mob protesting President Donald Trump’s election loss broke into the Capitol while Congress was meeting to certify President Joe Biden’s victory.

The plea agreement was not immediately available to the public but Furst said that Packer had agreed to cooperate with the FBI investigation into the events of Jan. 6, including sharing information on his social media accounts.

Packer, 57, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and will be sentenced on April 7 and could face up to 6 months in prison, although others charged with similar crimes have received less or no jail time.

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