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Arkansas man who occupied Pelosi's office arrested by FBI

by Bill Bowden, Brianna Kwasnik | January 8, 2021 at 3:56 p.m.
Richard Barnett (Washington County sheriff's office & special to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette/AFP via Getty Images/Saul Loeb)

Richard “Bigo” Barnett has been arrested by the FBI.

During the melee at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Barnett, 60, of Gravette invaded House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office and posed for photographs with his feet propped on a desk in her office.

"Richard Barnett is in FBI custody," said Connor Hagan, a spokesman for the FBI in Little Rock. "He self-surrendered this morning at 10 a.m. to our agents at the Benton County sheriff's office."

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According to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice, Barnett was charged on Thursday with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful entry; violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds; and theft of public money, property, or records.

A dozen other people were also charged in connection with Wednesday's melee, according to the release.

Hagan said photographs and video from the Jan. 6 invasion of the U.S. Capitol are posted on the FBI's website at The agency is asking people to look at the images and help identify those who stormed the building that day.

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Hagan said it was "unacceptable" that people were threatening residents of Gravette.

"We have made a swift arrest," Hagan said. "This guy is facing multiple charges. There is no reason to involve townspeople or city employees of Gravette who had nothing to do with the Jan. 6 incident. There's no reason to threaten them and the FBI takes a very dim view of threats made against citizens of Northwest Arkansas."

Charles Robbins, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Fort Smith, said Barnett was in the Washington County jail in Fayetteville on Friday.

State Sen. Jim Hendren, R-Gravette, tweeted on Friday in response to a reporter's question that he was glad Barnett was in custody: “I hope that he and all who participated with him in this outrageous attack on our nation’s capital resulting in the loss of one of our Capitol police officers are brought to justice. Barnett does not represent my town or my state.”

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Gravette Mayor Kurt Maddox denounced Barnett’s actions, writing in a post on the city’s Facebook page “the vast majority of the citizens who live in Gravette AR are salt of the earth people who would help their neighbors at a moment’s notice.”

“With all of the challenges 2020 brought to our country, the people of this safe small town have presented themselves with grace and pride. The actions of one, do not represent the whole,” Maddox said.

In an email responding to a reporter's question, the mayor said: "I appreciate the cooperation and coordination of our local, county, and federal law enforcement agencies working together to bring Richard Barnett in to answer for his actions. This case is still currently under investigation and we ask for your patience as the investigation moves forward."

CORRECTION: Richard “Bigo” Barnett posed for photographs with his feet propped on a desk in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. Pelosi’s daughter has said that reports that Barnett had his feet on Pelosi’s desk were incorrect.


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