Guest post by Bill Lawrence
Dawn Bancroft Story Of An Insurrectionist — Dawn Bancroft crawled through a broken window of the Capitol, took a video, then crawled back out again. Her life might not have changed if that was it. On the way home, though, she made another in which she said “We were looking for Nancy to blow her friggin’ brains out, but we didn’t find her.”
She sent it to a friend and the friend sent it to the FBI.
It was Jan. 6, 2021.
She was 59 years old, the divorced mother of three children, and the owner of Cross Fit Sine-Pari, a gym in Doylestown that she started in 2009.
What ensued was the loss of her business, the loss of friends, the loss of her accountant, the loss of her bank, a conviction of the misdemeanor of parading in the Capitol, and a 60-day sentence along with three years probation and 100 hours of community service all capped with a lecture from the pompous and partisan federal Judge Emmet Sullivan.
Ms. Bancroft, who was never in trouble with the law, expected to serve her time in a halfway house or minimum security prison. Instead, she was sent to the federal correctional facility in Hazelton, W.Va., a medium-security prison.
She was 60 years old.
She said was strip-searched twice upon arrival and her first 10 days were served in the Secure Housing Unit or SHU which is solitary confinement.
She was held in a 8-by-10-foot cell. It was cold and her clothing was thin, similar to a medical scrub with short sleeves. She was forbidden to sleep on the bed during waking hours and the blanket was required to be kept folded upon it.
Guards ignored her when she sought their attention albeit one responded with abuse when she caught her laying on the bed in the daytime.
There were no clocks in her cell. She asked why and the guard said “I don’t know.”
She said “I don’t know” was the answer the guards always gave.
She said when she became anxious she’d pray the rosary.
“I would pray the rosary using my fingers in place of the beads for I was not allowed an actual rosary,” she said. “I always became more calm at the conclusion of the session.”
She was not allowed to contact her family. She learned, though, that her daughter was calling every morning as was a friend in the evening. As the two shared a first name, prison authorities assumed it was the same person and a real pest.
This was a good thing, at least for Ms. Bancroft.
The prison limited phone calls to once every 30 days but one of the guards volunteered to contact the caller. She ended up contacting the friend to whom she made up a story about what a great time Ms. Bancroft was having.
And when she was transferred to the general population things improved. The other inmates liked her. One woman saw she was into fitness and asked to train with her.
Her new friends would ask what she was in for and were shocked when she told them it was for “parading”. The population, after all, included murderers, and child abductors, including one who with her boyfriend abducted two Amish children and sexually abused them. When the boyfriend went for a shovel with the intent to kill and bury them, she got cold feet and drove off with the children abandoning them in a corn field. They survived.
Ms. Bancroft pledged not to let the state break her.
And they didn’t.
She learned about “fishing” which is unraveling thread from a blanket and tying it to a folded up piece of toilet paper roll and using it to slide small objects between cells. She said an inmate sent her a stamp that way after she heard her worrying about how to contact her family.
She wrote a letter to her son and sent it to her home as that was the address with the only zip code that she could remember. Her son was picking up her mail.
She’d watch Fox News as that was one of the few news options they had. She thinks it leans a little too much to the left just not as much as the others. Others would watch with her. She’d have political debates with them. She says she converted many Democrats into Trump Republicans.
Terms of her probation have prevented her from contacting the women who remain at Hazleton but they are in her thoughts as are those still incarcerated without bail for the January 6 protests.
Prison reform has become an issue for her as a result of her experiences.
Ms. Bancroft says the Bucks County Republican Party has removed her from her committeewoman’s seat in the 2-2 Precinct in Doylestown, a seat which she won last spring with the voters having full knowledge of her involvement in the protests.
Regarding Jan. 6, she says she saw one incident that may have involved provocateurs where a group on some scaffolding was trying to break windows in the Capitol and the crowd below objecting accusing them of being Antifa.
Read more from Bill Lawrence here.