Two January 6th Defendants and the Consolidation of Right-Wing Extremism

Bernstein and Marritz in The New Yorker:

In March, Guy Reffitt, a supporter of the far-right militia group the Texas Three Percenters, became the first person convicted at trial for playing a role in the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. After three hours of deliberations, a federal jury found Reffitt guilty on all five counts, including entering a restricted area with a firearm and obstructing an official proceeding. After the verdict, Reffitt returned to the section of the District of Columbia jail where, for more than a year, the mostly white rioters have been held separately from the jail’s mostly Black and brown general population. The January 6th defendants call it the “patriot wing.” Each night, they sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” together.

Reffitt resumed his jailhouse pastime, playing Magic: The Gathering—a card game that involves wizards, spells, and strategy—with Jessica Watkins, a bartender and militia leader from rural Ohio who is awaiting trial on seditious conspiracy, obstruction of an official proceeding, and four other charges. Watkins has pleaded not guilty. Of the more than eight hundred people charged with participating in the insurrection at the Capitol, Reffitt and Watkins have been accused of some of the most significant crimes.

Since meeting in jail, they have become close friends. With other defendants, they helped start the tradition of singing the national anthem, Watkins said. She taught Reffitt how to play Magic using copies of cards that her fiancé had sent her. In a message sent on a jail-approved e-mail system, Watkins called the game “cardboard crack,” because it’s so addictive. “I tear the pictures in half neatly to make two magic cards, and I’ve taught my fellow inmates to play,” she wrote. Reffitt, in a message of his own, said that he loves Magic as well. “It’s a very intellectual game and keeping focus can be strained in this environment,” Reffitt wrote. “We tune out the loud noises when we can, the noise level is very stressing.”

More here.