Following his imprisonment, Texas resident Daniel Goodwyn described what it was like being prosecuted for years after he stepped inside the U.S. Capitol for hardly a minute on January 6, 2021.
Goodwyn, a free speech activist, had traveled to Washington, D.C., to protest the election results after alleged irregularities were reported in key states like Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Arizona.
In an interview with The Dallas Express, Goodwyn recounted the events of January 6, when some protesters began to enter the building. Some of the protesters engaged in unlawful and even violent behavior. However, Goodwyn claimed he arrived at the Capitol building after all of that.
“By the time I actually got to the building, it was 3:33 p.m., so it was long after all the violence, and any gunshots, any grenades, any tasers, pepper spray, or any of the scuffles with police,” he said. “I didn’t see any of that by the time I got there.”
“People were just meandering around peacefully. There was like a million people — the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen in my life,” Goodwyn recalled. After running into some friends, he “went over to the building, just kind of following the crowd and the energy.”
“There was a big line of police standing near that door, and the door was open,” he noted. “They were standing around, not stopping anyone, so people were meandering in and out through that door. So, I went and meandered in the door to check out what was going on.”
Goodwyn said the police officers stationed right outside the open door to the Capitol did not instruct him to stay out nor provided any instructions about whether or not it was permissible to enter the Capitol at that time.
“When I got in there, cops were right inside the door, and they told me to leave,” he continued. “I yelled at the police, called him an oath breaker, told everyone to get his badge number, … and then I just left because he told me to leave.”
“I was in the building for less than a minute, somewhere between 30 and 40 seconds,” Goodwyn claimed.
For his minute-long sojourn into the Capitol, the FBI charged him with “Knowingly Entering or Remaining in any Restricted Building or Grounds Without Lawful Authority” and “Violent Entry and Disorderly Conduct on Capitol Grounds.”
The FBI also alleged that “Goodwyn [was] a self-proclaimed member of the Proud Boys, a group known to the FBI as being present and disrupting the functions of the U.S. Congress on January 6.”
As proof of this, they pointed to two social media posts in which Goodwyn shared a “stand back and stand by” meme created by the Proud Boys group.
However, Goodwyn denied being a Proud Boy, claiming, “That was something that Trump had said in a debate with Biden before the election, in which he really meant stand down. So everyone was just making fun of it and joking around that it was funny, and being like, ‘haha, he wants us to be his militia or something.’”
“That was the joke, which we obviously knew wasn’t the case,” he added. “So I posted that meme, and I was like, ‘awaiting orders from our commander-in-chief.’”
“So the FBI, basically, their logic is, if you post a hamburger meme, you’re a hamburger,” Goodwyn quipped. “I have friends who are Proud Boys, but I’m not a Proud Boy, but it’s just so crazy that they called me a ‘self-proclaimed Proud Boy’ because I posted a meme.”
The leader of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, was sentenced to 22 years in prison last month for “seditious conspiracy and other charges related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.”
After being targeted by the FBI, Goodwyn said, “They arranged with my lawyer for me to be able to self-surrender. But before I even had a chance to, even though they had a date for me to do it, they come and do a pre-dawn, Roger Stone-style raid with a medieval-style battering ram, guns pointed at me and my family, traumatizing everyone, handcuffing everyone [except for my mother].”
After trying to force him to wear a COVID-19 mask, Goodwyn was placed into solitary confinement for 21 days.
“That was like torture. I had a hard time reaching my family, my lawyer, anything like that,” he said. “Even getting a Bible, I had to beg for days.”
Next came a year of house arrest, during which he could only leave the premises for church with preapproval. Additionally, technology companies began banning him from their services, including Facebook, Hinge, Instagram, Lyft, Airbnb, and Stripe.
In February 2021, Goodwyn was indicted on five counts, including “parading … in a Capitol building,” disorderly conduct in a Capitol building, disruptive conduct in a restricted building, entering and remaining in a restricted building, and obstruction of an official proceeding.
As noted previously, Goodwyn said he had not been instructed not to enter the Capitol by the police stationed outside the open door, and he left upon being told to vacate the premises after only a minute inside the vestibule. For this, he was looking at up to 15 years in prison.
“They actually tried to get me to plead to [18 U.S.C. §§ 1512(c)(2)], and I told them no. Then they came back and said, ‘Okay, well maybe you can plead to a misdemeanor that’s basically trespassing,’” he recounted. “So they give you the plea agreement and a statement of offense that you have to sign, and I’m reading through the proposed statement of offense, and it’s got a bunch of inaccuracies in it.”
After changes were made to the statement of offense, Goodwyn signed the plea deal and was sentenced to 60 days in jail, which he served in a low-security federal prison. Even after serving his prison time, he is still under supervised release and cannot travel outside of certain regions in Texas.
When asked about how his experiences have impacted the way he views the justice system, Goodwyn responded, “I love the United States of America, and I’d love to be a part of it again one day when we get it back because I don’t know what country we’re living in right now.”
“This country doesn’t have a border, it doesn’t have elections that aren’t rigged, we don’t have people truly representing us, and we don’t have the rule of law,” he claimed. “People aren’t following the Constitution that this country was built on.”
The events on January 6, 2021, have been widely criticized by politicians.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who was Speaker of the House at the time, denounced the incident, saying, “The violent domestic attack on Congress on January 6th was the worst assault on the Capitol since the War of 1812 and the worst domestic assault on American Democracy since the Civil War.”
“We are facing a radically new threat in the kinds of forces that combined to attack our government on January 6th,” she continued. “The future of our democracy is on the line. This assault was an attempt to overthrow the government.”
Since that day, however, questions about the role of federal agents in the escalation of the protest have been raised, as FBI Director Christopher Wray has noted that “the FBI cannot adequately track the activities and operations of its informants … present at the Capitol on January 6,” per the New York Post.