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Man Photographed In 'Camp Auschwitz' Sweatshirt During U.S. Capitol Riot Is Arrested

One of the most enduring images of the assault on the U.S. Capitol was that of a long-haired, bearded man wearing a black sweatshirt with a skull and crossbones graphic and the words "Camp Auschwitz" in large letters.

The FBI, in an affidavit released prior to a court appearance Wednesday, identified him as Robert Packer, 56, of Newport News, Va.

Packer was arrested at his residence, according to the affidavit, and appeared Wednesday in a virtual hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Douglas Miller in Norfolk, Va. Packer faces two criminal counts: knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority; and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

The affidavit says that Packer was first identified by "media outlets" and that the FBI matched photographs taken at the Capitol with Packer's driver's license. The affidavit includes images of Packer both outside and inside the Capitol that had appeared on social media and on a British television network.

Camp Auschwitz refers to the complex of German labor and extermination camps in occupied Poland during World War II in which more than 1 million people were murdered, most of them Jews. Packer's sweatshirt also included the words "Work Brings Freedom," an inexact translation of the German slogan that was over the camp's entrance gate, "Arbeit Macht Frei."

Packer was released on his own recognizance, according to Norfolk NBC affiliate WAVY. He was not required to post bond but was ordered to stay away from Washington, D.C. He has a virtual court appearance scheduled for Jan. 19 in the U.S. District Court for D.C.

The acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, Michael Sherwin, says hundreds of people are expected to be charged in connection with the assault on the Capitol.

The affidavit includes a Dec. 11 security camera photo of Packer wearing the same sweatshirt in a store near Newport News. An unidentified witness had contacted the FBI to say that Packer was a regular customer at the store. The witness did not know Packer's name.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Katkov