NY Man’s Political Journey and Conviction for Capitol Attack
Jan 15, 2024 — Emily Russell and Zach Hirsch
This story is part of a podcast on far-right extremism called ‘If All Else Fails.’
A Decision to Make
On a winter night in early 2021, James Bonet, a shift manager at Five Guys in Saratoga Springs, New York, faced a choice. After work, instead of going home, he contemplated a several-hour overnight drive to Washington, D.C. Bonet believed that the 2020 election had been stolen from Donald Trump, and with the president scheduled to give a speech on Jan. 6, he wanted to be there for answers. Despite hesitations, Bonet decided to seize the opportunity to experience the moment.
A Belief Reinforced
Bonet firmly believed that as commander-in-chief, it was important to listen to Trump’s words and protect the Constitution. He viewed it as a serious matter that demanded attention. In Bonet’s mind, Trump’s speech was likely to contain significant information. This belief led him to join thousands of supporters gathered in front of the White House.
Far-Right Extremism and Believers
While we’ve discussed far-right groups and their connections to law enforcement in Upstate New York, it’s crucial to acknowledge that not everyone involved is part of an organized group or holds a position of power. Many individuals, like Bonet, spend hours delving into online conspiracy theories, embracing false claims, and sometimes even acting upon them.
Arrival in D.C.
Bonet arrived in Washington, D.C. on the morning of Jan. 6. After taking a nap in his car, he made his way towards the Ellipse. Trump began speaking around noon, and Bonet listened intently as the president repeated his false claims of a stolen election. Despite the many debunked claims, Trump refused to concede, further fueling Bonet’s convictions.
An Unplanned Entry
As the crowd swelled, Bonet, like many others, decided to head towards the Capitol building. He claimed that he had no intention of overthrowing anything, stating that he was swept up in the events. Bonet defended his actions by pointing out that the police did not try to stop the crowd. Their inability to hold back the surge allowed protesters to enter the Capitol building with ease.
The Aftermath and Prison Sentence
Reported by his coworkers, Bonet turned himself in to the FBI three weeks after Jan. 6. Eventually, he pleaded guilty to illegally entering the Capitol and served a 72-day prison sentence. We sat down with Bonet in September 2023, unsure of what to expect. However, rather than expressing regret, Bonet saw his actions as a patriotic duty, comparing himself to the founding fathers. To this day, he remains convinced of a corrupt deep state and a stolen election.
The Dangers of False Beliefs
Bonet’s case raises important questions about how individuals become convinced of false conspiracies and the potential dangers associated with these beliefs. Many people, like Bonet, base their decisions on inaccurate information, leading to actions that may have serious consequences.
A Political and Personal Transformation
Recounting his journey on the porch of his Glens Falls home, Bonet revealed that he had initially leaned left politically before experiencing a personal transformation. Losing weight led him to question mainstream science, government narratives, and media trustworthiness. He immersed himself in alternative sources of information, such as podcasts, which challenged the status quo.
Read More of this Story at www.northcountrypublicradio.org – 2024-01-15 05:00:21
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