Opera singer charged with hitting officer with flagpole during US Capitol riot
7 June 2021, 12:21
A Florida operatic soprano who attended the US Capitol riot attacked an officer with a flagpole, authorities report.
Audrey Ann Southard, a 52-year-old soprano, once sang at New York City’s Carnegie Hall, one of classical music’s most esteemed venues.
She was charged on Tuesday with multiple offences, including hitting a sergeant with a flagpole.
“Ready to take it,” Southard says in a since-deleted Facebook video of herself standing in front of the Capitol building on 6 January 2021. “It’s going to be fun,” she adds.
Southard was criminally charged with attacking the officer and pushing him back backward, until he slammed his head against a statue.
The FBI said Southard continued to agitate the mob behind her to “push in here” as they attempted to disrupt Congress and overturn then-President Donald Trump’s loss in the 2020 presidential election.
Five people died as a result of the violent attack on the Capitol building, which was encouraged by Trump in unsubstantiated tweets about election fraud.
Video footage shows Southard screaming at officers, “Tell Pelosi, we are coming for that b****. There’s a hundred thousand of us, what’s it going to be?”, according to court documents supporting her arrest. Southard posted additional photos of herself outside the Capitol, and appears in video footage taken from inside the building later in the day.
Southard works as a private music teacher where she lives in Spring Hill, Florida.
A spokeswoman for Carnegie Hall confirmed on Friday that she performed at the prestigious venue on 2 May 2013, with Finnish pianist Liisa Pimia. A review found by NBC News shows a critic calling her vocal performance “attractive, unforced”, adding, “I was glad to hear this fine singer moving ahead in her artistry.”
Southard earned her place at the hall by taking home first prize at the Ibla Grand Prize Bellini International Vocal Competition in Sicily, in 2012, Tamba Bay Times reports. Her victory won her a showcase performance at the great New York City music venue.
“She has a magnificent voice that is capable of doing many things,” Joseph Tomaselli, her vocal coach, told the publication at the time.
Court records show that Southard appeared in US District Court for the Middle District of Florida on Wednesday and was released after posting a $50,000 bond.
Southard declined to comment to NBC, and her lawyer did not immediately respond to a comment request from the Washington Post.