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Jan. 6 rioter says Trump should face the same fate as those who stormed the Capitol

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

What Trump experienced in court yesterday is what many January 6 rioters have already faced. NPR's Arezou Rezvani spoke to one rioter who believes it's time for the former president to face the same fate as those who stormed the Capitol.

AREZOU REZVANI, BYLINE: For 70-year-old Pam Hemphill of Boise, Idaho, Trump's day in court is long overdue.

PAM HEMPHILL: Nobody wants to see a president go to prison. However, it's time that we recognize that law and order is for everyone.

REZVANI: More than 1,100 people who participated in the insurrection have been charged. Hemphill herself was one of them.

HEMPHILL: I pleaded guilty because I was guilty - trespassing, picketing and parading. We broke the law, period.

REZVANI: This retired alcohol and drug abuse counselor who voted for Barack Obama followed her friends' and family's support for Trump over time.

HEMPHILL: He wanted to stand up against China and the border. And he had convinced me and everybody else that the Democrats wanted this to be a communist country.

REZVANI: So she voted for Trump in 2016 and again in 2020. After he lost, a friend gifted her a flight to D.C. for the stop the steal rally, and off she went. Video she shot that day shows her at the Capitol building urging rioters not to vandalize.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

HEMPHILL: Hey, what are you doing? Don't do that.

REZVANI: Other footage from that day show her advising a crowd to, quote, "occupy the Capitol," according to court documents. Several months later, law enforcement showed up at her door. Hemphill was eventually sentenced to 60 days in jail and three years of probation. She says she looks back on that time with great regret.

HEMPHILL: I want the world to know that I followed a cult leader, and I'm really sorry that I did because I'm really ashamed of it. But it's something I got to forgive myself. But I can't blame me 100% because I was lied to by Trump.

REZVANI: And for that, Hemphill believes Trump deserves to face consequences.

HEMPHILL: The indictment shows me that even if you are one of the most powerful people in the world, that you are still subject to the laws that allow this country to be safe and free.

REZVANI: Hemphill accepts that many people may not believe she's truly sorry for participating in the insurrection, but her choice to speak up hasn't been easy. She says she's received numerous death threats in recent months and is in the process of moving. But she doesn't want to say where because the movement she once supported has now turned against her.

Arezou Rezvani, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Arezou Rezvani is a senior editor for NPR's Morning Edition and founding editor of Up First, NPR's daily news podcast.