At a June 15 press conference in Washington, three GOP representatives joined forces with the Patriot Freedom Project and family members of Jan. 6 prisoners to call out the injustice and denial of due process rights for those incarcerated. According to Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), the “violations of American rights” is “mind-blowing.”
“We are extremely concerned to see a Department of Justice, not about justice,” Gohmert said at the press conference. “It’s about vengeance. It’s about intimidation and the tactics that we’ve been seeing from this DOJ and the disregard for rights coming out of investigations showing the FBI lied, intel lied. The DOJ lies. It ought to concern every single American.”
“As a former felony judge and chief justice, it’s particularly mind-blowing for me during a time when we should have the most fair courts in our history. We have more violations of American’s rights than even under the Hoover FBI,” Gohmert told The Epoch Times in a June 22 interview. “It’s just incredible. People that have been nominated and confirmed by the Senate as federal judges, granting warrants that don’t specify with any particularity—as the Constitution requires—what they’re for. What’s worse, when they find out they were lied to under oath by DOJ. But they’re not really bothered. They don’t do anything about it. For heaven’s sake. Have respect for your position if you have no respect for yourself.”
Also in attendance were Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.).
According to Cynthia Hughes, founder of the Patriot Freedom Project, the press conference was “a great day.”
“We finally got some support from people in congress, which we needed,” Hughes told The Epoch Times. “We are feeling powerful and strong.”
Hughes also said she was glad to finally have the opportunity to “personally call out [Rep.] Liz Cheney and know that she could possibly hear about that.”
“Things are finally moving,” Hughes said. “I think we moved the needle. I just looked at representatives and the incredible women around me and I think we felt more hope than we ever have in almost 18 months now. It was a good thing.”
Following the press conference, The Epoch Times was able to speak with each of the family members to learn the stories of their loved ones they say the rest of the media refuses to tell. They want the American people to learn about the citizens their government has locked away in prison.
Sharon Caldwell of Berry Hill, Virginia, said she is grateful for Cynthia Hughes and the Patriot Freedom Project for the opportunity to have a press conference where she and the wives, mothers, and family members of Jan. 6 prisoners could speak about what they are going through.
“Some of us have done interviews on the news but we never really had the support of Congress people,” Caldwell told The Epoch Times. “I felt like we had that [at the press conference] with three GOP representatives. It was awesome.”
Sharon’s husband, Thomas Caldwell, has been charged with “Seditious Conspiracy Conspiracy to Obstruct an Official Proceeding Obstruction of an Official Proceeding and Aiding and Abetting Conspiracy to Prevent an Officer From Discharging Any Duties Tampering with Documents or Proceedings and Aiding and Abetting” (pdf).
According to the Save Our Farm website, “the DOJ has falsely claimed that [Thomas] commanded a group called the ‘Oath Keepers’ to overthrow the U.S. government. The allegations are ridiculous and outrageous.”
According to Save Our Farm, the government has already been forced to admit several mistakes in its investigation:
- Tom was NEVER “Commander” of a group called the “Oath Keepers”, nor was he ever a “Leader” or a “member” of this group.
- Tom did NOT enter the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
- Tom did NOT commit any acts of violence, damage any property, or threaten anyone, including law enforcement.
- Tom did NOT participate in a plan to enter the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
But since his incarceration, he has been “subjected to solitary confinement, physical and mental abuse, and denial of medical care, including life-sustaining prescription medications.”
The cost of his defense is about to cost the family the historic family farm he has lived on since he was a child. They have a donation website for those who want to help.
“I think that’s something the American people need to hear because I think they’re not hearing it,” Sharon said. “Our loved ones are not being viewed as human beings. I think I can safely say this for most of us, I feel we and our loved ones are being treated like political pawns and not as actual people. They’re undergoing character assassination and there is so much good in these people who are rotting in these jails who have no criminal history, not even a traffic ticket in many cases and they’re being held in pre-trial detention for over a year, 17 months in some cases. It’s crazy.”
Bonnie Nichols said her husband Ryan has been “incarcerated in the D.C. gulag” for 514 days, “in prolonged solitary confinement under torturous conditions.” From his four years as a Marine, Bonnie said Ryan suffers from PTSD and the prolonged solitary confinement only exacerbates his condition. Ryan faces 11 charges, including multiple infractions with the words “Deadly or Dangerous Weapon,” attached. Lesser charges include “Parading, Demonstrating, or Picketing in a Capitol Building.”
“He has been denied access to due process rights, access to his discovery to defend his case, and he has been denied access to nutritional food and sunlight for months,” she asserted. “The narrative they are painting of my husband isn’t accurate. He’s not an insurrectionist.”
According to Bonnie, Ryan owns a nonprofit called Rescue The Universe. He goes around the country rescuing people and animals during natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, and tornados. In 2018, Ryan was seen on multiple news outlets rescuing six dogs abandoned by their owner in a locked chain-link cage in Leland, North Carolina.
“He’s a hero in his community,” Bonnie said. “He just went to the Capitol to peacefully protest. I never thought in a million years this would be happening to our family.”
Bonnie and Ryan have two children, ages five and eight. A few months ago, she said the youngest told his dad he didn’t think he was ever going to see his daddy again. He doesn’t even remember what daddy looks like.
“It was heartbreaking,” Bonnie said. “My family is suffering. He was the breadwinner in the family and I just can’t believe that a Marine who served his country would be treated this way in America. It’s unjust. It’s unconstitutional. It’s wrong.”
Like many other Jan. 6 prisoners, defendants, and their family members, Bonnie is convinced “there’s no way we’re going to get a fair trial in D.C. with the narrative the January 6 Committee and the DOJ are painting in the media. The committee and the media have edited video footage and shared it with the public, specific parts have been cropped out of that footage. It was done to strategically push a one-sided narrative. America deserves the truth.
“So I have decided to stand up and share my story to awaken America to the truth about what’s happening in our country so people can do their research and realize there’s more than one side to the story. Our Constitutional Rights, our freedom of speech is under attack. We need to come together and agree that this justice system is abusing their powers. Families have been tortured over this.”
As Bonnie explained, they have received hate mail. They had to shut down their business for several months due to hate mail, harassment, and attacks from news media stations like CNN and other people on the left just because of what they’ve heard on the news.
“Something needs to be done about it,” Bonnie demanded. “For those in Congress, who swore an oath to defend the Constitution, it’s time for them to do their jobs and to fight for these families. No American should be treated this way. Death row inmates, prisoners at Guantanamo Bay get treated better. They have rights. We are supposed to have rights here in America and were aren’t getting them an no one is doing a damn thing about it.” They have a GiveSendGo account established for those who want to help with Ryan’s ongoing legal expenses.
Robert Morss: AKA ‘Lego Man’
Angela Morss said her son, Robert, is a good man. He is a former Army Ranger who loves his country. He has no criminal history and he “treats others with respect.” He is also known as “Lego Man.”
“He has loved Legos since he was a little boy,” Angela reminisced. “He has thousands and thousands of them and he always had these massive containers of Legos, which I had to move.”
In fact, Angela said her son has so many giant containers of Legos, she had to move them to a storage unit.
“When he was arrested they said he had a Capitol Building in his home built out of Legos,” Angela noted. “He did not. The FBI is trying to make this huge deal out of him having a Capitol Building built out of Legos but they just had the box and that’s what they have a picture of. But it did get him the nickname of Lego Man, which he’s actually proud of.”
“Robert wants people to know he is political prisoner,” Angela said, ” and he doesn’t want people to forget about him or the other political prisoners, because if we forget about them it would be a devastating thing for our country.”
When Robert was arrested on July 11 at his home in Pennsylvania, Angela was at her home in Nevada. He has now been incarcerated for over a year. His attorney has made several unsuccessful efforts to have him released on bond. She said one of the main reasons why they have refused to allow him bond “is because of his elite soldier status. The government recruited him and trained him and now they are using that against him. He spent the first several months of his incarceration at the D.C. gulag where the conditions are just horrifying. He’s no longer in D.C. because he was assaulted by five guards. It was in retaliation for a meeting he had with his attorney. It was after the meeting with his attorney, as Robert was strip-searched, that the assault took place. There were sexual components to it,” Angela added.
After that, they went to court and Robert was immediately transferred to Northern Neck Regional Jail, which is “dorm style.”
When Robert gets out, Angela said they both want to do something “that would make life in prison not so horrible.” The idea came to him when he received a birthday card that prison officials destroyed. “The googly eyes had been ripped off and the little noise things that were in it had been ripped out, too.” She and Robert want to work with someone like the online card company Day Spring, in order “to make cards that speak to people who are incarcerated” and reflect themes only they would find the humor in.
“For example, they eat a lot of sardines,” Angela said. “There are so many funny things you say about sardines and being in prison that other people wouldn’t understand. To find a birthday card for someone who is in prison is very difficult. I just want to make some communication that would be positive and I hope someone will reach out and want to do that with me.” Angela has set up a GiveSendGo account to help cover her son’s ongoing legal expenses.
Haley McLean said the “shock and awe campaign” the government is conducting against Jan. 6 protesters and their families “is totally unnecessary.”
Her fiancé, Jack Wade Whitton, is faced with 22 charges (pdf), including multiple counts of violent entry with a deadly or dangerous weapon, those being “a baton, a flag pole, and crutch.”
“I would say it’s a form of bullying,” Haley told The Epoch Times. “When they arrested my husband it was two months after they first called him. The FBI called him in February of 2021 and he had a lawyer call to speak to them on his behalf. At the time he didn’t have charges against him but they advised that if they file charges he would be able to turn himself in. We never heard back from them until they showed up at their house just before 7 a.m.”
According to Haley, a flood of people came into their driveway and surrounded their home. There was a Humvee there with a battering ram. There were men in paramilitary gear surrounding the house. Conservatively, she said Jack estimated there to be around 40 agents.
“We were covered head to toe from all directions with red laser dots from their assault rifles,” Haley reflected. “I felt that would be the last day I ever saw Jack. I thought they were going to kill him. When he went outside, they screamed for him to put his hands up. They kept screaming for him to freeze and put his hands up but he was doing that. He did exactly what they said but they acted like he wasn’t doing it. He was cooperating. It kept escalating and they kept repeating themselves and I thought they were going to kill him. But they didn’t, and when they took him away it was the last time I saw him.”
“My home hasn’t been the same,” Haley said, crying. “They just took away any sense of peace, any sense of hope. He’s been denied bond. He has no criminal history. He owned and operated a fencing company that has folded in his absence. We’ve lost everything.”
For those who want to help, Bonnie has set up a GiveSendGo account.
Geri Perna of Port Charlotte, Florida, is the aunt of Matthew Perna.
“My nephew walked through the Capitol on January 6 and he went through an open door, ushered in by Capitol Police, took pictures with his cell phone, and chanted, ‘USA, USA,”‘ Geri told The Epoch Times. “He later found out that his picture was on the FBI’s website and he turned himself in immediately. He was never jailed. He was released and he obtained a lawyer.”
According to the Criminal Complaint (pdf), Matthew was charged with “Obstruction of an Official Proceeding, Aiding and Abetting, Entering and Remaining in a Restricted Building or Grounds, Disorderly and Disruptive Conduct in a Restricted Building or Grounds and Disorderly Conduct in a Capitol Building.”
Initially, Geri said Matthew was charged with misdemeanors. But later they added the felony charges of obstruction of Congress.
“It became a nightmare for Matt,” Geri recalled. “It was a year of constant delays and postponements for his hearings and he got to the point where it was mentally exhausting.”
In order for the ordeal to end sooner, Geri said Matthew’s attorney advised him to plead guilty. So he plead guilty. About a week before his sentencing Matthew found out the government was planning to add a terrorist enhancement, which would have increased his sentence drastically from six to 12 months to five to six years.
“That Friday night [on Feb. 25] at 5:30, he went into his garage and he hung himself,” Geri said tearfully. “He could not handle this anymore. He was a wonderful man, 37 years old. He had a great living. He traveled world wide. He didn’t have a hateful bone in his body.”
While on a mission trip to Haiti, Geri said Matthew met a little boy who “wouldn’t smile or talk” when they first met. “He bonded with this boy, and by the end of the week he was attached to Matt.”
He didn’t commit any acts of violence while in the Capitol. He didn’t touch anything. He didn’t break anything, steal anything, or have any altercations with anybody at all. He simply exercised his freedom of speech.”
Like the others, Geri said the whole ordeal has been a nightmare. In the wake of Matthew’s suicide, family and friends were forced to pick up the pieces and move on.
“So many people have no clue of how January Sixers are being treated,” she said. “They have no clue that they are sitting in jails and haven’t been convicted of a crime. They are clueless because of the media and our government and I am fighting for the justice Matthew did not receive while he was alive.”
To retain an attorney to fight for what happened to her nephew and to provide assistance to other Jan. 6 prisoner families, Geri has set up a website called Justice For Matthew.
The press conference proved to be a bittersweet day for Geri. While she is grateful they all had an opportunity to tell their stories, she said they all have one thing she doesn’t have.
“Hope,” she said, her voice breaking with emotion. “They still have hope. I have no hope left. My nephew is gone. There is no hope of him ever coming back. Unless people wake up and unless there are more than three Republican Congress people speaking out for these J-6ers, there will be more death. There will be more people who do what Matt did because they are tormenting them mentally. The human spirit can only take so much. I miss my nephew terribly and the world lost a wonderful human being. They are all human beings but our Department of Justice is not treating them as such and it’s a shame. It’s a tragedy of epic proportions. Never had a speeding ticket. Never had a parking ticket or a DUI. Now suddenly he was facing a lengthy prison term and he was terrified, and rightfully so, because the way these J-Sixers are being treated in prison is unconstitutional. It’s inhumane, and my nephew was terrified to be in that position and he took his own life. Not because he was a coward, but because they broke him.”
Reporting by The Epoch Times.