A Capitol rioter who called January 6 a ‘Rosa Parks’ moment just avoided a prison sentence

Felipe Marquez
Capitol rioter Felipe Marquez avoided the four-month prison term prosecutors recommended.

  • Felipe Marquez asked for fist bumps from police during the January 6 attack on the Capitol.
  • A judge rejected prosecutors’ request that he serve prison time for his role in the Capitol riot.
  • Marquez described the Capitol riot as a “like a Rosa Parks, like a Martin Luther King” moment.

A Florida man who had described the January 6 attack as “like a Rosa Parks” moment avoided prison time Friday, as a federal judge sentenced him to three months of home confinement for his participation in the pro-Trump mob that overran the Capitol.

During an hourlong hearing, Judge Rudolph Contreras rejected a prosecutor’s recommendation that Felipe Marquez serve four months in prison, saying the case was “hard to distinguish” from others in which the Justice Department had recommended probation-only sentences.

Contreras, a 2012 appointee to the federal trial court in Washington, DC, said he was optimistic that Marquez would take a “hard look at himself” and also ordered 18 months of probation. The judge added that Marquez’s conduct stemmed from a “confluence of events spurred on by then-President Donald Trump” and his political allies.

Marquez pleaded guilty in September to a single charge stemming from his role in the breach of the Capitol, where prosecutors said he interfered with police officers attempting to protect the building by asking them for selfies and fist bumps. He had previously admitted his involvement in the attack on the Capitol in an interview with a CBS affiliate in South Florida, just weeks after joining with the pro-Trump mob. 

“This is like a Rosa Parks, like Martin Luther King moment for me. As long as I’m peaceful and I can say, ‘Hey, let’s all come together,’ I think that’s the most important thing,” he said, according to CBS Miami.

Prosecutors alleged that Marquez joined about 20 other rioters inside the private hideaway office of Sen. Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat whose office suffered substantial damage. Marquez was the first from that group to be sentenced.

On Friday, prosecutor Jeffrey Nestler noted that other January 6 defendants who entered sensitive locations within the Capitol had received prison sentences. Nestler pointed to the 20-day prison sentence for Andrew Ericson, who entered the conference room inside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, and a 45-day prison sentence for Tam Dinh Pham, a former Houston police officer who spent time in an office space during the Capitol breach.

But Contreras was unswayed. Marquez had expressed regret for his conduct, telling the judge, “I wish I could take it back.”

Nestler said Marquez displayed a “joyful and celebratory mood” during the attack on the Capitol, pointing out that he flashed a thumbs-up to a photographer after leaving the building on January 6. Nestler also noted that Marquez drove from Florida to Washington, DC, with a gun, although he did not bring the firearm inside the Capitol.

After returning to Florida, Nestler said, Marquez posted a YouTube video in which he claimed “we didn’t hurt anyone.” Nestler said Marquez had consistently shown a “lack of acceptance of his role and the seriousness of what happened.”

Marquez himself may not have harmed anyone, but more than 100 law enforcement officers were injured in the Capitol attack.

Contreras acknowledged at the end of Friday’s hearing that other January 6 defendants have recanted their remorse after receiving leniency at sentencing.

“I hope not to see that,” the judge told Marquez, “but there’s not a lot I can do afterwards.”

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