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Man who sat in Nancy Pelosi's office says he is a former firefighter 'out of Memphis'

Micaela A Watts Samuel Hardiman
Memphis Commercial Appeal

The man who took a seat in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office, propping his feet upon a desk and leaving with an envelope personalized with Pelosi's address, described himself as a former firefighter "out of Memphis."

Richard Barnett, a resident of Benton County, Arkansas, has been condemned by multiple public officials after he took part in the failed insurrection attempt Wednesday in the nation's capital.

Barnett identified himself as a former local firefighter in an online video interview dated Oct. 11 by an organization called "Just Say No BV." 

Tommy Malone, the head of the Memphis firefighter's union, said a Richard Barnett once worked for the department but has since quit and it was unclear if that was the same person. Malone did not provide the dates of Barnett's employment. Wayne Cooke, spokesman for the Memphis Fire Department, said the name did not initially appear in the department's system but he would continue to gather information about the department's records. Another union official said the union's database is maintained independently from the department. 

Dan Springer, city spokesman, said city records, which go back to 1998, show no record of a Richard Barnett.

The Commercial Appeal was unable to further verify Barnett’s employment with the Memphis Fire Department.

Richard Barnett, a supporter of President Donald Trump, sits inside the office of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi inside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, Jan. 6, 2021. Demonstrators breached security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election electoral vote certification.

Barnett was identified as a participant in the Pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol building by Arkansas Congressman Steve Womack, posted on Twitter condemning the actions of Barnett and others, writing, "I'm sickened to learn that the below actions were perpetrated by a constituent. It's an embarrassment to the people of the Third District and does not reflect our values. He must be held accountable and face the fullest extent of the law. This isn't the American or Arkansas way."

Another Arkansas politician, Rep. Jim Hendren, also posted on Twitter, condemning Barnett's actions and calling for him to serve jail time.  

"I was born, raised and live in Gravette AR (not AK ) — don’t know this guy, but he needs to got to jail," Hendren wrote on Twitter. 

Barnett identified himself as a resident of Gravette, Arkansas in an interview with New York Times reporter Matthew Rosenburg outside of the Capitol building. In the same interview, he said he left a quarter in Pelosi's office in exchange for the envelope he took, and therefore his actions shouldn't be classified as theft.

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Months before the insurrection attempt, Barnett offered a glimpse into his mindset in an interview with an unknown individual. The interview was shared through a Facebook page called "Just Say No to BV".

"My name is Richard Barnett, I'm a retired firefighter out of Memphis, Tennessee, living in northwest Arkansas now," he said in the mid-October interview, right arm holding his rifle in place against his chest. 

Barnett said he was the co-founder of 2A NWA STAND!!!, a pro-2nd Amendment rights group that appears to organize through a Facebook page. 

The group's page had been taken down as of Thursday morning. 

"I'm in [the] construction industry here in northwest Arkansas, and I spend all my time doing what I can to protect our country," Barnett said.

In addition to advocating for 2nd Amendment rights, Barnett said his group also organizes rallies to support the police. It's not immediately clear if Barnett's group also supports the Capitol police.

In the October interview, Barnett described the state of the nation as "sad." 

"It is sad, it is really sad. You know, we're beyond Democrat versus Republican, we are actually at the point of freedom and good versus evil," Barnett said. "This is not just the United States, this is worldwide, this is new world order, and we've got to get a grip on it, they're destroying the nuclear family."

Barnett did not clarify who was destroying the nuclear family, but he went further to describe his view of Black Lives Matter supporters, alluding to them as "domestic terrorist groups" that were "running all over the county destroying America."

Richard Barnett, a supporter of President Donald Trump, sits inside the office of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi inside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, Jan. 6, 2021. Demonstrators breached security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election electoral vote certification.

"The silent majority has been silent long enough, and we're standing up," Barnett said. 

In the interview, Barnett continued to describe a world-view where the U.S. is "the last bastion of freedom in the world."

"When this is gone, it's over people," Barnett said. 

Attempts to reach Barnett have not yet been successful. 

Micaela Watts is a breaking news reporter for The Commercial Appeal, she can be reached at micaela.watts@commercialappeal.com.

Commercial Appeal reporter Laura Testino contributed to this report.