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Rioter who stormed US Capitol with ‘Camp Auschwitz’ sweatshirt sentenced to prison

Robert Keith Packer seen during the storming of the Capitol on January 6, 2020 (L) and in custody in Virginia, January 13, 2013. (Screen capture: Twitter/Western Tidewater Regional Jail)
Robert Keith Packer seen during the storming of the Capitol on January 6, 2020 (L) and in custody in Virginia, January 13, 2013. (Screen capture: Twitter/Western Tidewater Regional Jail)

A Virginia man who stormed the US Capitol while wearing an antisemitic “Camp Auschwitz” sweatshirt over a Nazi-themed shirt was sentenced today to 75 days of imprisonment.

Robert Keith Packer, 57, declined to address US District Judge Carl Nichols before he sentenced him during hearing held by video conference. The judge noted the “incredibly offensive” message on Packer’s sweatshirt before imposing the sentence.

“It seems to me that he wore that sweatshirt for a reason. We don’t know what the reason was because Mr. Packer hasn’t told us,” Nichols said.

Photographs of Packer wearing the sweatshirt went viral after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. When FBI agents asked him why he wore it, he “fatuously” replied, “Because I was cold,” a federal prosecutor said in a court filing.

Packer’s sweatshirt depicted an image of a human skull above the words “Camp Auschwitz.” The word “Staff” was on the back. It also bore the phrase “Work Brings Freedom,” a rough translation of the German words above the entrance gate to Auschwitz, the concentration camp in occupied Poland where Nazis killed more than 1 million men, women and children.

Assistant US Attorney Mona Furst said she learned yesterday that Packer also wore an “SS” T-shirt — a reference to the Nazi Party paramilitary organization founded by Adolf Hitler — under his sweatshirt on Jan. 6.

Defense attorney Stephen Brennwald acknowledged that Packer’s attire was “seriously offensive” but argued that it shouldn’t be a sentencing factor because he has a free speech right to wear it.

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