Two Members of Self-Described Ohio Militia Charged by Feds for Participating in Capitol Riot

click to enlarge Two Members of Self-Described Ohio Militia Charged by Feds for Participating in Capitol Riot
Ford Fischer / News2Share

Two members of a self-indentified Ohio 'militia' have been arrested and charged by the Feds for their participation in the Capitol riot on Jan 6.

Jessica Watkins and Donovan Crowl, both of Champaign County, have been charged with entering a restricted building or grounds; violent entry or disorderly conduct; and obstruction of an official proceeding.

They are both dues-paying members of the Oath Keepers, a "large but loosely organized collection of militia who believe that the federal government has been coopted by a shadowy conspiracy that is trying to strip American citizens of their rights."

And they are both tied to the indictment of Thomas Caldwell, a Virginia man referred to by Watkins as their "commander" who the Feds allege conspired to plan the attack.

In one message quoted by the FBI in his indictment, Caldwell wrote, "All members are in the tunnels under the capital. Seal them in turn on gas."

In another message quoted by the Feds, Caldwell told Watkins, "We need to do this at the local level. Lets (sic) storm the capitol in Ohio. Tell me when!"

Watkins, who was arrested after returning to Ohio following a stay with Caldwell, was interviewed by the Ohio Capital Journal last week.

“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," she said, noting that, “I don’t want to call it a false flag, but it was some people hijacking what started off as a peaceful movement.”

“I didn’t commit a crime. I didn’t destroy anything. I didn’t wreck anything. If they want to charge me, that’s fine, but you’re welcome,” she said.

Charging documents cite the interview, evidence from videos and photographs, as well as posts made by Watkins on Parler, the recently deplatformed network favored by the right in which she wrote, "“Me before forcing entry into the Capitol Building. #stopthesteal2 #stormthecapitol #oathkeepers #ohiomilitia,” and, "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.”

Crowl, another member of the militia and a former Marine, was charged with similar evidence in addition to information from an interview he did with The New Yorker. He, "confirmed to the writer that he entered the Capitol, saying that he went to Washington, D.C., to 'do security' for'“V.I.P.s' whom he declined to name. CROWL also stated to the writer that his intentions had been peaceful, and that he had never been violent, claiming 'we protected the fucking Capitol Hill police.' He declined to substantiate the claim during the
interview. CROWL at the same time admitted during this interview that he 'expelled three fucking people' whom he said had been injured. He further elaborated about 'patriots [who] dragged this fucking maggot off the wall and started beating his ass.'”

The Ohio State Regular Militia was formed in 2019 by Watkins and has appeared at various protests in Ohio.

In her interview with the Ohio Capital Journal, "Watkins dismissed characterizations of the riots as insurrectionist or violent as media spin. She said she and several other militia members who she entered the complex with saw the invaders marveling at the art and architecture of the Capitol like tourists."
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Vince Grzegorek

Vince Grzegorek has been with Scene since 2007 and editor-in-chief since 2012. He previously worked at Discount Drug Mart and Texas Roadhouse.
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