Transgender Insurrectionist Found Guilty, Faces 50+ Years in Prison

Jessica Watkins, a transgender woman, was one of the five Oath Keepers members convicted for their participation in the January 6th Insurrection, in which they attempted to derail the certification of the 2020 presidential election, as announced by the Department of Justice on Tuesday.

Watkins and the other Oath Keepers were convicted after an eight-week trial and three days of jury discussions.

The Oath Keepers, as stated by the Southern Poverty Law Center, are a far-right organization comprised of numerous individuals connected to militias and who have prior military or law enforcement experiences.

Meggs, the leader of the Florida group, and Rhodes, the founder and leader of the Oath Keepers, were both found guilty of sedition.

Kenneth Harrelson and Thomas Caldwell were found guilty of related felony charges. Watkins, 40, was found guilty of conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding, obstructing an official proceeding, interfering with law enforcement officers during a civil disorder, and conspiring to prevent an officer from performing their duties.

“The Director of the FBI, Christopher Wray, stated that our partners will continue to hold accountable those who engaged in illegal acts during the siege of the U.S. Capitol in January 2021. However, the FBI will always uphold the rights of all citizens to peacefully engage in activities protected by the First Amendment. This case shows that attempts to undermine the functioning of American democracy through lawbreaking will not be tolerated.”

As per the Department of Justice, the organization collaborated through encrypted and confidential messaging applications to journey to Washington, D.C. During the period of January 6 – when Congress was set to confirm the electoral college vote and validate President Joe Biden’s victory over former President Donald Trump. The department stated that the collective, which included Watkins, had intended to obstruct the legal transition of presidential authority.

According to the DOJ’s statement, around 2:30 p.M., Meggs, Harrelson, and Watkins, accompanied by other members of the Oath Keepers and affiliates – several of whom were dressed in paramilitary attire and had patches displaying the Oath Keepers name, logo, and insignia – advanced in a ‘stack’ formation up the eastern staircase of the Capitol, joined a crowd, and gained access to the Capitol building.

Those participating in the riot ransacked the Capitol building and offices of lawmakers, looking to prevent or delay the certification. Several police officers at the Capitol were injured as the insurrectionists broke into the building.

U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves for the District of Columbia stated, “Incorporating our legal system, this case confirms the power of our democracy and the establishments that defend and uphold it.” “Following the events of January 2021, and throughout the duration of the defendants’ actions, the jury diligently examined the evidence to seek the truth in a lengthy and equitable process,” he added.

She stated in last month’s testimony that she was acting like a patriotic American on January 6th, and she believed that she had been pulled into the conspiratorial underbelly of the internet.

Watkins stated, “It’s been since I asked the question myself,” while explaining her motivation for going to the Capitol. “I just realized how foolish I was when I got there.”

Watkins further elaborated on her struggle to come to terms with her transgender identity while testifying. She expressed, “I made considerable efforts to suppress it,” and highlighted that she was raised in a highly “rigorous Christian” family.

“I have been criticized by others in a similar manner as I have criticized others.”

“To me, it’s not a flag that you need to display, ‘look how impressive it is,'” Watkins stated. “To me, it’s distressing.”

On the witness stand, Watkins confessed to entering the Capitol building and impeding law enforcement officers.

Watkins exclaimed, “just another fool. I was no longer the medical professional known as Jess, and I was no longer responsible for security. It was at this point that I completely lost all fundamental neutrality. We were going to make our voices heard, individuals were entering our residence, and I perceived it as a moment of great American heroism, as I envisioned it in my thoughts.”

Watkins conveyed her remorse during her testimony.

Watkins addressed the jury, expressing his desire to apologize. However, he preferred offering his apologies directly to Christopher Owens, the officer from the Metropolitan Police Department who was present. Watkins acknowledged that Owens was the one who stood on the opposing side, safeguarding the Capitol from his own foolish actions.

Watkins is confronted with a potential sentence of up to 51 years. Every offender was found guilty of at least one serious crime carrying a maximum imprisonment term of 20 years.