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Super Happy Fun America Leader, Charged In Capitol Violence, Ordered To Keep Away From Mass. State House

Mark Sahady, center, and John Hugo, right, are seen at the Boston Straight Pride Parade and Rally organized by Super Happy Fun America on Aug. 31, 2019 in Boston. (Paul Marotta/Getty Images)
Mark Sahady, center, and John Hugo, right, are seen at the Boston Straight Pride Parade and Rally organized by Super Happy Fun America on Aug. 31, 2019 in Boston. (Paul Marotta/Getty Images)

A Massachusetts man charged with taking part in the siege on the U.S. Capitol has been released from prison while his case is adjudicated.

Mark Sahady, 46, of Malden, has been held at the Wyatt Detention Center in Rhode Island since his first court appearance Tuesday. On Thursday, U.S. District Court judge Jennifer Boal decided that Sahady could be released with conditions that include a ban on organizing any demonstrations.

Sahady's attorneys disputed the conditions of his release, saying they are a violation of the defendant's first amendment rights and a bias against his political views. Sahady is a leader of the group Super Happy Fun America, which authorities say helped organize buses to travel from Massachusetts to Washington to protest on Jan. 6.

"The real reason [for the conditions ] is to limit Mr. Mark Sahady’s speech which is in support of Donald Trump, and opposition to Mr. Sahady’s perceived and honestly held belief in presidential irregularities or election fraud," Sahady's attorney Rinaldo Del Gallo argued in a motion to have Sahady released on personal recognizance.

Del Gallo said that Sahady is not a flight risk — pointing out that the charges are misdemeanors so Sahady is unlikely to risk more serious charges by trying to flee. Del Gallo also said that Sahady has deep roots in the Malden community, is a military veteran, has never been convicted of a crime.

Del Gallo says there is no evidence indicating that Sahady did anything more than attend a protest in Washington, where others resorted to violence.

"There are 'tweets' presumably from the Twitter account of Mark Sahady that merely state that buses are being organized to Washington, DC to protest the certification of the presidential election—nothing could reasonably be construed as a threat, plan or effort to engage in illegal activity. Moreover, this was clearly activity protected under the First Amendment," Del Gallo wrote.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney William Bloomer called the conditions "reasonably calculated" to protect the public. Bloomer said that because Sahady is accused of being part of a demonstration that resulted in violence, the conditions are necessary for public safety.

"These conditions should be imposed, considering this defendant was part of a group that stormed the Capitol and engaged in riotous activities that resulted in five deaths," Bloomer argued in court. "This is not a case where we're seeking to impose conditions that trample his first amendment rights."

After Boal approved the conditions and warned that not accepting them would mean that Sahady would remain in jail during appeal, Del Gallo agreed to the conditions. Sahady must also surrender his passport, not travel out of state and stay away from the Massachusetts State House.

The conditions are similar to those imposed on another Massachusetts resident arrested by the FBI Tuesday and facing similar charges. Natick Town Meeting member Suzanne Ianni, also a member of Super Happy Fun America, is charged with disorderly conduct and unlawfully entering a building. In both Ianni's and Sahady's cases, the FBI cites social media posts and photos of both of them inside the Capitol building on Jan. 6.

Sahady agreed to have his case handled by the U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C. Another remote court appearance is scheduled at the end of the month.

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Deborah Becker Twitter Host/Reporter
Deborah Becker is a senior correspondent and host at WBUR. Her reporting focuses on mental health, criminal justice and education.

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