WASHINGTON – Transgender military veteran Jessica Watkins, who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, was sentenced Friday to eight and a half years in prison.
She is a member of the far-right Oath Keepers and was convicted of participating in a conspiracy to disrupt the confirmation of the 2020 presidential election.
U.S. District Judge of Columbia Amit Mehta said Watkins’ efforts at the Capitol were “aggressive.”
He said she showed no immediate remorse, even though she has since apologized.
“Your role that day was more aggressive, more belligerent, more purposeful than perhaps others. And you were pushing others to achieve your goals. And in the immediate aftermath, there was no sense of shame or contrition, quite the opposite. Your remarks were solemn and lacked a real sense of the gravity of that day and your role in it,” said the Judge.
Watkins’ sentencing came one day after Judge Mehta sentenced Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes to 18 years in federal prison and Florida Oath Keeper Kelly Meggs to 12 years.
According to prosecutors, Watkins founded and led a small militia in Ohio.
She mobilized her group to Washington in coordination with the Oath Keepers on Jan. 6.
Watkins and her fellow militiamen eventually marched to the Capitol in tactical gear and encouraged other rioters to push past police outside the Senate building.
She said in court that she was just another idiot running around in the hallway.
Watkins was acquitted of the serious charge of seditious conspiracy.
Mehta said that Watkins’ behavior was not as bad as that of Rhodes or Meggs, but that it was still serious and that she also played a role in bringing others to Washington.
However, she was convicted of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding.
-Watkins’ moving testimony
According to reports, Watkins, who is transgender, gave emotional testimony during the trial detailing struggle with her identity in the Army.
Before the sentencing, Mehta addressed Watkins’ traumatic story directly, saying, “I do not think there’s a person … who would have heard your testimony and not been moved.”
He told Watkins that her story itself showed a lot of courage and resilience.
“You have overcome a lot, and you should be looked at as someone who can be a role model for other people along the way. And I say that at a time when transgender people in our country are so often vilified and used for political purposes,” Judge said.
Media outlets quoted Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Hughes tell the court that the government does not dispute or minimize what Watkins went through personally and she has sympathies. But he added that “she does not have an excuse.”