1. Home
  2. Politics
  3. world
  4. news
  5. Trump treated my family like disposable pawns and tore us apart, says daughter of convicted Jan. 6 rioter

Trump treated my family like disposable pawns and tore us apart, says daughter of convicted Jan. 6 rioter

Bethany Dawson   

Trump treated my family like disposable pawns and tore us apart, says daughter of convicted Jan. 6 rioter
  • Guy Reffitt was sentenced to seven years in prison for his involvement in the Capitol riot.
  • His daughter told Insider that "it would only be just for former President Trump to be convicted."

For Peyton Reffitt, 18, what began as debates around the dinner table ended with her family falling apart and her father receiving the longest jail sentence yet for his involvement in the Trump-inspired Capitol riot.

American family life in the age of Trump has taken on a toxic dimension, the young woman from Texas said.

Peyton said her family's disintegration started as angry shouting matches between father and children and was completed when her brother, Jackson Reffitt, then 18 years old, turned his father in to the FBI.

After the Capitol riot in 2021, Guy Reffitt, 49, returned to Wylie, a Dallas suburb, and told Jackson and then-16-year-old Peyton that they would be "traitors" if they turned him in.

But Jackson had already tipped off the FBI in December 2020, after becoming increasingly concerned by his father's radicalized right-wing rhetoric.

"We are an example of how the modern American family is becoming more fragile as the political climate rises," Peyton said in a message to Insider. "There is not enough protecting American families from the effect of propaganda and misinformation."

Radicalizing Dad

Guy Reffitt was part of a militia movement called the Three Percenters, many of whom joined the January 6 insurrection.

The movement centers on the myth that only 3% of colonists fought during the Revolutionary War. Members view themselves as "modern-day versions of those revolutionaries, fighting against a tyrannical US government rather than the British."

Guy Reffitt was sentenced on August 1 to seven years and three months in prison, the longest prison sentence any of the Capitol rioters have received so far. He was found guilty of carrying a weapon into Congress, interfering with police, and threatening his children, NBC reported.

On the steps of the courthouse immediately after their father was sentenced, Peyton and her sister, Sarah, attempted to make sense of what happened to their family in front of TV cameras. They went viral on social media when Peyton told journalists that "Trump deserves life in prison if my father is in prison for this long."

Peyton believes her family — and others like them — have been treated as "disposable pawns" in a power struggle.

"The former President Trump is not entirely responsible for my father's actions that day on January 6. However, in my opinion, I believe he used orchestrated language that uses subliminal projection, leading up to and the day of, that in a real way bypasses his supporters' rational thought and appeals to their deeper emotions," she told Insider in a text.

"I think it would only be just for former President Trump to be convicted and serve the longest sentence about the events that occurred on January 6, 2021," Peyton said.

Peyton is joined by a majority of Americans in believing Trump should be charged for January 6, according to an IPSOS and ABC news poll.

A prison sentence for Trump "would be the accountability to set a true precedent for our future as a nation to protect all American families and democracy itself," she said.

Over the past few years, families and friendships have been destroyed by the rise of extremist views, misinformation, and conspiracy theories.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll, conducted in the first few months of the Trump presidency, found that 16 percent of respondents said they had stopped communicating with a friend or family member after the 2016 election.

Jacquelyn Hammond, 47, a bartender in Asheville, North Carolina, who had cut contact with her Trump-supporting mother, Carol, told Reuters that "Trump is like the catalyst of an earthquake that just divided two continents of thought. Once the Earth divides like that, there's no going back."

Even though her father is incarcerated and her brother estranged from the family, Peyton said she sees a light at the end of the tunnel and believes her family can heal, in time.

"As a family, we do not need to understand each other to the fullest extent, but to appreciate each other's differences is a beautiful lesson that broadens our perceptions without judgment," she said.