A January 6 rioter who said that “war just started” in a video taken after the attack on the US Capitol and encouraged social media followers to act as well was sentenced Wednesday to 45 days in jail.
Imelda Acosta, also known by her social media name “Mariposa Castro,” livestreamed the 2021 riot for more than 40 minutes – capturing parts of one of the most brutal attacks on police that day. She was fined $5,000 in addition to the 45-day sentence. She had previously pleaded guilty to unlawfully protesting.
Before handing down his sentence, Judge Reggie Walton said he had “been reading a couple books of how civil wars start,” adding his concern that history might be repeating itself.
“What happens next time around?” Walton said of the next election cycle, adding later, “If there’s no real consequence, then people will say ‘why not do it again.’”
During the hearing, Acosta – the former owner of a tea and yoga shop – said she was a peaceful person who “got caught up in all the energy” that day.
“I wish I could have yelled and screamed more about love” and peace, she said, adding, “There’s no need for war if we only just spread love.”
“That day you seemed to be calling for war,” Walton interjected. “Contrary to what you’re saying now … you seemed to be happy about what was going on. You did not seem to be a peace-loving person. You seemed to be someone who was seeking to inspire others.”
According to prosecutors, Acosta decided to join rioters at the Capitol after watching news reports from her hotel room. “After being told by other guests at her hotel that ‘Vice President Pence was a traitor,’ (Acosta) decided, ‘I’m not taking this! NO,’” prosecutors wrote in a court filing.
While at the Capitol, Acosta filmed inside the building, capturing a ransacked conference room where one rioter with a megaphone told others, “People should probably try to coordinate together if we’re going to take this building.” Rioters eventually took pieces of furniture from the room, including the leg of a table as well as a tabletop, and assaulted officers with them outside, according to prosecutors.
After another rioter said “Traitors will be shot. Pence, we’re coming,” Acosta added “We’re coming” and “This is war.”
“If I can do this, you guys can do this,” she later encouraged those watching her videos.
More than 740 individuals have been arrested in the Capitol breach case, and 106 have been sentenced thus far.