Nine Oath Keepers, including seven who wore combat gear, were indicted by a grand jury Friday for entering the Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot.
The Oath Keepers, a loosely-connected confederation of militia groups, had been connected to the Capitol riot before these latest indictments. Three of the Oath Keepers named in the Feb. 19 indictment had previously been indicted in January, according to CBS News. The new indictment supersedes the earlier one, according to the United States District Attorney for the District of Columbia. (RELATED: FBI Links 40 Suspected Rioters To Extremist Groups: Report)
Six Individuals Affiliated with the Oath Keepers Indicted by a Federal Grand Jury for Conspiracy to Obstruct Congress on Jan. 6, 2021 https://t.co/LXSeHC0SpC
— U.S. Attorney DC (@USAO_DC) February 19, 2021
All members of the group were charged with obstructing an official proceeding, destruction of government property and entering and remaining in a restricted building. Two of the Oath Keepers, Thomas Caldwell and Graydon Young, are charged with tampering with official documents.
The nine Oath Keepers traveled to Washington, D.C., in groups from Florida, North Carolina and Ohio, according to the indictment. At the Capitol, they allegedly “equipp[ed] themselves with communication devices and donn[ed] reinforced vests, helmets, and goggles.” Seven of the Oath Keepers then joined a larger group to form a stack, in which “each individual keep[s] at least one hand on the shoulder of the other in front of them,” the indictment alleges. The tactic is commonly used by infantry troops, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The stack breached the Capitol front doors, causing significant damage.
Jessica Watkins, one of the Oath Keepers who was first indicted in January, described herself as the leader of the Ohio Regular Militia. In a chat using the communication app Zello, Watkins claimed that her group was “rocking it,” in response to a demand for rioters to “Arrest this assembly, we have probable cause for acts of treason, election fraud,” prosecutors claim.
The Oath Keepers organization is listed as a co-defendant in a lawsuit filed by Mississippi Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson alleging a violation of his rights as a legislator.