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Jan. 6 rioter who bragged that ‘spirit of God’ compelled him into Senate with knife ordered to prison

Joshua Matthew Black

Images of Joshua Matthew Black, from federal court documents.

Two days after participating in the Jan. 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, rioter Joshua Matthew Black logged onto YouTube under the persona “LetUs Talk” and told his viewers that the “spirit of God” compelled him to enter the Senate.

“We just wanted to get inside the building,” Black commented in the video. “I just wanted to get inside the building so I could plead the blood of Jesus over it. That was my goal.”

Black also confessed that he brought a knife with him that day.

“I wasn’t planning on pulling it,” he claimed. “I just carry a knife because I do. I work outside, and you need knives, you know,” adding that he understood it was illegal to carry the weapon inside Washington, D.C.

After being convicted on a felony and multiple misdemeanor counts supported by such pronouncements, a federal judge ordered the 46-year-old Alabama man on Tuesday to report to prison for nearly two years.

The 22-month sentence follows a pattern of Jan. 6th rioters snared by their own social media boasting, including on YouTube, Facebook, and even dating apps.

When searching his home on Jan. 14, 2021, the FBI recovered the knife Black described in the YouTube video. Authorities arrested him later that day at a police station in Moody, Alabama, a city of a little more than 13,000 people, according to the most recent decennial census.

Blood is clearly visible on Black’s face in the YouTube video and other images that day from the Capitol. He attributed the wound to being shot by a projectile that went through his left cheek.

Prosecutors allege that Black played a key, even bellwether, role in the breach.

“As established during the trial, Black — who was armed with a concealed knife — was the first rioter to breach the barricade at the Capitol’s Lower West Terrace at approximately 12:57 p.m. on January 6,” his sentencing memo states. “He positioned himself at the front of the large, unruly crowd gathered at the West Plaza, and was shot in the face with a crowd-control munition at 1:07 p.m. Despite suffering a gaping wound from the shot and witnessing numerous assaults on police officers, he remained on the Capitol grounds and made his way to the east side of the building.”

In his defense sentencing memo, attorney Clark Fleckinger II urged the judge not to put his client behind bars. The filing also gave insight into some of his client’s religious remarks on the YouTube video.

“Around 2010 Mr. Black was ‘born again’ and became part of the evangelical Christian community. It has been a major component of Mr. Black’s life since,” the defense memo states. “He has attempted to carry out what he perceives to be God’s will with a charitable and loving heart toward his family, neighbors and community.”

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson imposed the sentence at a hearing on Tuesday. After serving his prison term, Black must serve 24 months of supervised release. He must also pay $2,000 in restitution.

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."