A trans woman from Ohio is facing decades in jail following her indictment on multiple charges relating to the storming of Congress on January 6. Jessica Watkins, a former Army Ranger and veteran of the war in Afghanistan, is currently in jail awaiting trial for her part in the assault. An active, dues paying member of the right-wing Oath Keepers militia group who formed her own local group named the Ohio State Regular Militia, Watkins was photographed in full tactical gear inside the Capitol and prosecutors released messages they claim she sent confirming and directing some of the actions that day.
“Yeah. We stormed the Capitol today,” she wrote to the social media app Parler according to the charging documents. “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 documents allege she claimed to have “forced” her way past police “like rugby.”
Prosecutors included multiple photographs and screen grabs of Watkins’s statements relating to the assault. There's also video footage of her inside the building. Her written statements on social media differ from those she gave in an interview to the City Beat where she said “to me, it was the most beautiful thing I ever saw until we started hearing glass smash. That’s when we knew things had gotten really bad.”
Watkins added she and her group “never smashed anything, stole anything, burned anything, and truthfully we were very respectful with Capitol Hill PD until they attacked us. Then we stood our ground and drew the line.” She also claimed the violence was caused by “some people hijacking what started off as a peaceful movement.”
The 38-year-old Watkins is charged with multiple violations of law including unlawful entry, engaging in disorderly conduct with the intent of disrupting government business, engaging in physical violence against any person or property within the building, and other charges related to attempts to hijack the orderly transfer of power. The charges against Watkins are some of the most serious of all of those levied against those who took part in the attack. Five people died in relation to the assault and scores of police were injured.
Watkins is the co-owner of The Jolly Roger bar in Woodstock, Ohio with her boyfriend Montana Siniff — Siniff did not take part iin the insurrection. Authorities searching the bar and her home found zip ties, protective equipment, and instruction on bomb-making according to prosecutors.
Her public defender, Michelle Peterson, says that while Watkins admits entering the building, she did not “engage in any destruction of property, and in fact, encouraged others not to vandalize.”
Peterson said Watkins has no prior convictions or history of violence, poses no threat to society, and should be released with a GPS monitoring device pending trial. She petitioned the court alleging that Watkins has been "treated harshly" and is at "particularly risk in custody" because she is trans. According to the complaint, Watkins was stripped naked and placed in a cell lighted “24 hours a day for 4 days in full view of everyone” in response to a hunger strike she had launched to obtain medical attention for her injured arm.