- Three members of a radical anti-government group have been charged for their roles in the Capitol insurrection.
- The three are associated with the Oath Keepers, a group that claims tens of thousands of members.
- They face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for obstructing an official proceeding, according to the DOJ.
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Three people associated with the Oath Keepers, a far-right, anti-government militia group made up of current and former military officers and law-enforcement officials, were indicted in a Washington, DC, federal court Wednesday.
The three were charged with conspiracy, obstructing an official proceeding, destruction of government property, and unlawful entry on restricted buildings or grounds for their role in the deadly January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol, according to the Department of Justice.
Members of the Oath Keepers, which has membership numbers in the tens of thousands, claims to fulfill the oath that all military and police officers take to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Jessica Watkins, 38, and Donovan Crowl, 50, both from Champaign City, Ohio were arrested January 18 on a criminal complaint. Thomas Caldwell, 65, from Clarke County Virginia, was arrested the following day.
They face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for Obstructing an Official Proceeding, according to the DOJ.
Charging documents accuse the three of speaking with each other prior to January 6 to coordinate their roles in the attack. They reportedly began communicating in November 2020 and continued until Caldwell was arrested on January 19.
Watkins and Crowl both gave media interviews after the insurrection and confirmed they were members of the Oath Keepers. The two are also members of the Ohio State Regular Militia. In a social media post, Watkins reportedly said she was a commanding officer in the Ohio State Militia.
Caldwell is also associated with the Oath Keepers.
In the lead-up to the riots, the three discussed lodging logistics and coordinated calls to discuss the plan and join forces with other chapters of Oath Keepers, according to the DOJ.
“THIS IS OUR CALL TO ACTION, FREINDS! SEE YOU ON THE 6TH IN WASHINGTON, D.C. ALONG WITH 2 MILLION OTHER LIKE-MINDED PATRIOTS,” Caldwell reportedly posted on December 31.
He followed it up with another post on January 2, where he wrote, “It begins for real Jan 5 and 6 on Washington D.C. when we mobilize in the streets. Let them try to certify some crud on capitol hill with a million or more patriots in the streets. This kettle is set to boil…”
The criminal complaint filed on January 19 said the three documented their participation in the insurrection on social media, detailing where inside the Capitol. Watkins reportedly posted pictures of herself and Crowl on her Parler account, with a caption reading, “Me before forcing entry into the Capitol Building. #stopthesteal2 #stormthecapitol #oathkeepers #ohiomilitia.”
She then posted a video of herself with the caption, “Yeah. We stormed the Capitol today. Teargassed, the whole, 9. Pushed our way into the Rotunda. Made it into the Senate even. The news is lying (even Fox) about the Historical Events we created today,” the DOJ reported.
The FBI also obtained audio from a walkie-talkie app between Watkins and other suspected Oath Keepers during the riots.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the National Security Division, Counterterrorism Section, Department of Justice are prosecuting the case.
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