Matthew Perna was failed by the country he loved.
Matthew Perna did nothing wrong on January 6, 2021.
The Pennsylvania man walked through an open door on the Senate side of the building shortly before 3 p.m. that afternoon. Capitol police, shown in surveillance video, stood by as hundreds of Americans entered the Capitol. Wearing a “Make America Great Again” sweatshirt, Perna, 37, left after about 20 minutes.
Less than two weeks later, Perna was ensnared in what the former top U.S. prosecutor called a “shock and awe” campaign to round up Trump supporters and deter them from demonstrating at Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, 2021. After he discovered his image on the FBI’s most wanted list for January 6, Perna immediately contacted his local FBI office and voluntarily submitted to questioning; on January 18, six FBI agents arrested Perna at his home.
His life from that point turned into a nightmare. Perna was indicted by a grand jury in February 2021 on four counts including obstruction of an official proceeding and trespassing misdemeanors. Despite his nonviolent participation in the events of that day—he did not assault anyone, carry a weapon, or vandalize property—Biden’s Justice Department and local news media nonetheless made his life pure hell.
Whenever his hometown paper, the Sharon Herald, published an article on its social media account about Perna, the majority of replies were “horrible and brutal,” his aunt, Geri Perna, told me on the phone Sunday. After more than a year of legal and public torture, Perna saw no way out.
On Friday night, Matthew Perna hung himself in his garage.
January 6, 2021 Archive
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