A CLOSER LOOK: “sedition” and what it means

A Closer Look

ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — Thirty-three years ago, a federal grand jury formally indicted 14 white supremacists in Fort Smith, Arkansas, on charges filed by the U.S. Department of Justice involving a seditious conspiracy — other charges included transporting stolen money and conspiring to commit murder, according to court documents.

Merriam-Webster definition of sedition (noun): incitement of resistance to or insurrection against lawful authority.

In April 1987, the alleged conspirators were part of “The Order,” a white supremacists group, and some of the men were already serving time for their intention to commit crimes.

Their trial began in February 1988. On April 7, 1988, an Arkansas federal jury acquitted all the men of “seditious conspiracy” charges.

  • Conspiring to kill a federal judge
  • Conspiring to kill an FBI agent
  • Plotting to overthrow the federal government
  • Establish an all-white Pacific Northwest nation

The jurors cited lack of evidence by the prosecution as the reason for the acquittal, according to an Associated Press report.


  • Louis Ray Beam, Jr., Houston, TX
  • Robert E. Miles, 63, Cohoctah, MI (died 8/16/1992)
  • Richard G. Butler, 70, Hayden Lake, ID (died 9/8/2004)
  • Richard Joseph Scutari, 40, NY
  • Andrew Virgil Barnhill, 31, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
  • Bruce Carroll Pierce, 32, Metaline Falls, WA (died 8/16/2010)
  • Ardie McBrearty, 60, Gentry, AR (died 12/4/2000)
  • David Eden Lane, 48, Denver, CO (died 5/28/2007)
  • Richard Wayne Snell, 57, Muse, OK (died 4/19/1995)
  • Lambert Miller, 47, Springfield, MO
  • David Michael McGuire, 25, Greenville, IL
  • Ivan Ray Wade, 35, Smithville, AR
  • William Wade (Ivan’s dad), 68, Smithville, AR
  • Robert Neil Smalley, 32, Ft. Smith, AR (acquitted earlier in the trial)

Snell was killed by lethal injection at the Cummins Unit in Lincoln County, Arkansas on April 19, 1995, for killing a pawnshop owner — the same day as the Oklahoma City bombing. Lane and Pierce died in prison in 2007 and 2010, respectively.

18 U.S. Code § 2383 Rebellion or insurrection: Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

Cornell Law School


Was it an act of sedition?

Arrests have been made in Wednesday’s riot at the Capitol building and the surrounding area in Washington, D.C., according to the U.S. Capitol Police (USCP).

Photographs for “persons of interest in unrest-related offenses (unlawful entry)” have been released by D.C. law enforcement in an effort to make additional arrests.

Of the thousands of people who filled the grounds at the Capitol building, one Arkansas man stood out nationally — Richard Barnett, 60, from Gravette.

TOPSHOT – A supporter of US President Donald Trump sits inside the office of US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as he protests inside the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 6, 2021. Demonstrators breached security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

Barnett was photographed sitting in a chair of a lawmaker’s office with his left leg propped up on the desk. In addition, he admitted to taking a letter from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk. Later, he told a reporter he didn’t steal it because he left a note on her desk, “along with a quarter, … even though she ain’t ******* worth it.”

Barnett has not been charged with any crime, nor has he been arrested in connection with Wednesday’s riot, as of this report. However, social media comments believe he should face some type of legal action.

Retired social worker Mark Davis calls Barnett’s actions “seditious,” in his opinion.

“While Mr. Barnett sees himself as a patriot, his delusion does not give him the right to violate federal property to pursue his delusion. Mr. Barnett may not have incited yesterday’s seditious riot where at least four people were killed (I believe POTUS bears that responsibility), he most certainly did engage in this seditious rebellion against the authority of the United States. He thus must be charged to the fullest extent of the law.”

The United States Department of Justice released possible charges the D.C. rioters could face, including “seditious conspiracy”:

  • Damage to Federal Property
  • Use of Fire of Explosives
  • Civil Disorder
  • Riots
  • Interstate Communications
  • Damage to Veteran Monuments
  • Interstate and Foreign Travel or Transportation in Aid of Racketeering Enterprises

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has a dedicated web page for people to email any pertinent information they may have about the insurrection at the Capitol building and surrounding area. fbi.gov/uscapitol.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Latest Video

FOX24 Video


More News

Local News Video


More Don't Miss

Trending Stories

Follow KNWA & FOX24 on Facebook

get the app

News App

Weather App

Follow @KNWAFOX24 on Twitter

Mega Millions & Powerball Numbers