Several participants of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol have been taking part in one attorney’s re-education program, which involves reading books or watching movies about topics like slavery and the Holocaust, as they face sentencing.
Heather Shaner, one of the many D.C. attorneys assigned to represent Capitol riot defendants who can’t afford their own, spoke to HuffPost in late June about the remedial social studies program she is offering to clients. Shaner said she normally sends clients books to read before their trial, but added that she wanted to take a more intensive approach with Capitol riot defendants.
“They’re a captured audience, and it’s life-changing for a lot of them,” she said. “Reading books and then watching these shows is like a revelation. I think that education is a very powerful tool … So I gave them book lists and shows that they should watch.”
This week, a 49-year-old woman from southern Indiana will be the first defendant sentenced in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. She’s also the first “graduate” of a pop-up remedial history initiative her lawyer is running for Jan. 6 defendants: https://t.co/Jf1xUKQFPD
— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) June 21, 2021
One of Shaner’s clients is 49-year-old Anna Morgan-Llyod, a supporter of former President Donald Trump from Indiana charged with entering the Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot. Morgan-Llyod was the first riot participant to face sentencing, pleading guilty to one misdemeanor count of parading in a Capitol building in late June, according to The Washington Post. (RELATED: Feds Arrest Five Family Members Who Walked Into Capitol Building During Jan. 6 Riot)
Court filings show Morgan-Lloyd wrote several reports on books and movies about U.S. history and the Holocaust as part of Shaner’s remedial program. One report focused on the book “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson, which explores injustices in the U.S. court system.
Another report focused on the movie “Schindler’s List” directed by Steven Spielberg, a film about a German industrialist during World War II who saved hundreds of Jewish prisoners marked for extermination in the Holocaust.
Morgan-Lloyd wrote a similar report about the book “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” by Dee Brown, which covers the history of Native Americans in the late 19th century. The program also focused on the history of U.S. race relations, according to HuffPost, and she watched the the PBS documentary “Slavery By Another Name” and the History Channel’s “Burning Tulsa.”
D.C. lawyer Heather Shaner told the court that the Capitol defendant being sentenced this week has tried to “educate herself and to learn the American history she was not taught in school.” https://t.co/Jf1xUKQFPD pic.twitter.com/6SCTFxq4u0
— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) June 21, 2021
In a court filing, Morgan-Lloyd stated she had “lived a sheltered life and truly haven’t experienced life the way many have.” She noted that “even though we live in a wonderful country, things still need to improve,” adding that “people of all colors should feel as safe as I do to walk down the street.”
In a separate court filing, Shaner told prosecutors she had “many political and ethical discussions” with her client. She said the remedial program was meant for Morgan-Loyd to “educate herself about ‘government policy’” toward minority groups and to learn “about the responsibility of an individual when confronting ‘wrong.’”
Prosecutors noted in a sentencing memo that Morgan-Lloyd was detained for two days after her arrest in connection with the Capitol riot, which she had described as “the most exciting day of [her] life” on social media. They added that prison time “can be eye-opening and serve as a deterrent to future criminal conduct,” especially since she had no prior criminal history.
The remedial program Shaner offered her clients was likely meant to demonstrate to prosecutors that Capitol riot participants had changed and should be offered leniency in sentencing. District Judge Royce Lamber sentenced Morgan-Lloyd to only three years of probation along with 120 hours of community service and a $500 fine, Justice Department records show.
Shaner defended her practices during a June 23 appearance on CNN, where “New Day” co-host John Berman questioned how Morgan-Lloyd and other clients watching “Schindler’s List” or reading books about slavery absolved them of their alleged crimes.
She argued that by “getting a library card, reading books [and] taking civic courses online, [Morgan-Lloyd] acknowledged both to herself and to the court that there was a lot to learn about her individual responsibility.”
“Was she suggesting that because she didn’t know enough about the Holocaust, that’s why she stormed the Capitol?” Berman pressed.
“No, of course not,” Shaner replied, adding that she presented a number of clients “with a book list and they could choose to read.” She also claimed her clients were “uninformed and misinformed” about how their presence at the Capitol “possibly empowered others who had more intentional ideas” about spurring violence during the riot.
It is unclear how many of Shaner’s clients, or how many of the roughly 500 people arrested in connection to the Capitol riot, have participated in such a remedial program. One of her clients is Landon Kenneth Copeland, who was filmed assaulting police officers at the Capitol during the riot and had a breakdown during a virtual hearing in his case. (RELATED: They ‘Despise’ ‘Traditional America’: Lawyer For Capitol Riot Defendant Says DC Residents Can’t Be Fair Jurors)
Shaner also admitted to HuffPost that she has strong political disagreements with her clients. Her remedial program echoes the teachings of critical race theory, which holds that America is fundamentally racist yet teaches people to view every social interaction and person in terms of race. Its adherents pursue “antiracism” through the end of merit, objective truth and the adoption of race-based policies.
Shaner told the outlet that the U.S. “was born of genocide of the Native Americans and the enslavement of people.” She also recounted how she was once “overcome with emotion” when a white person “acknowledged” the nation was created “through genocide and enslavement.”