Rioter Who Wore 'Camp Auschwitz' Shirt Pleads Guilty

Virginia man Robert Packer could get up to 6 months
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 13, 2021 2:09 PM CST
Updated Jan 27, 2022 9:25 AM CST
Man in 'Camp Auschwitz' Shirt Has Been Arrested
This photo provided by Western Tidewater Regional Jail shows Robert Keith Packer of Newport News, Va.   (Western Tidewater Regional Jail via AP)

(Newser) Update: A Virginia man who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 last year wearing a "Camp Auschwitz" shirt has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of "parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building" and will face a maximum sentence of six months when he is sentenced in April. Newport News resident Robert Packer, 57, has also agreed to pay $500 in restitution, the Virginian-Pilot reports. He will remain free on bond before sentencing. Packer's shirt, which also featured a skull and crossbones and the Nazi death camp's "Work Brings Freedom" slogan, made him one of the more recognizable rioters. He was arrested a week after the attack. The FBI said that when they searched his home, they found Nazi imagery including pictures of Hitler, along with a file marked "Whites Only Material," reports CNN. Our story from Jan. 13, 2021 follows:

A man who was photographed wearing a "Camp Auschwitz" sweatshirt during the US Capitol riot last week was arrested Wednesday in Virginia, authorities said. Robert Keith Packer, 56, was arrested in Newport News, where he lives. He was charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, and knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, the AP reports. A law enforcement official said Packer is the man who is seen in a photo inside the Capitol wearing a sweatshirt with the name of the Nazi extermination camp where about 1.1 million people were killed during World War II.

The sweatshirt also contained the phrase, "Work brings freedom," a translation of "Arbeit macht frei," the German phrase that appeared on the camp’s entrance. The photo of the man in the sweatshirt caused an uproar on social media. During a virtual hearing held Wednesday through a federal court in Norfolk, a federal prosecutor said the government would not be seeking detention for Packer. A federal judge said Packer would be released promptly on a personal recognizance bond. One of the conditions of his release includes barring Packer from visiting Washington unless it’s for a court appearance. His case and others are being prosecuted out of a federal court in the District of Columbia. (The FBI says hundreds more people will be charged for their role in the Capitol riot.)

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