© 2021
Prairie Public NewsRoom
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
News from NPR

Jacob Chansley, Self-Styled 'QAnon Shaman,' To Stay In Jail Pending Trial

Jacob Chansley, photographed during the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection, screams "Freedom" inside the Senate chamber following the breach of a mob during a joint session of Congress.
Jacob Chansley, photographed during the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection, screams "Freedom" inside the Senate chamber following the breach of a mob during a joint session of Congress.

A federal judge ruled Monday that the man often called the "QAnon Shaman" must remain in jail pending his trial for his role in the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol because he remains a threat to the public.

Judge Royce Lamberth said in his order rejecting Jacob Chansley's request for release that "no condition or combination of conditions" would ensure Chansley's return to court if he were released.

Lamberth said Chansley believes his actions during the siege of the Capitol, an attack in which five people died, were peaceful. That mindset, Lamberth wrote, shows "a detachment from reality."

"Defendant characterizes himself as a peaceful person who was welcomed into the Capitol building on January 6th by police officers," Lamberth wrote in the order. "The Court finds none of his many attempts to manipulate the evidence and minimize the seriousness of his actions persuasive."

A shirtless Chansley was photographed inside the U.S. Senate chamber. He wore attention-grabbing red, white and blue face paint and an animal fur headdress, and carried a flagpole with a speared top.

He was arrested in January and has pleaded not guilty to charges of civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding, violent entry and disorderly conduct.

Federal prosecutors describe Chansley as a leader within the QAnon conspiracy movement, which promotes baseless claims that former President Donald Trump is fighting a global system of powerful pedophiles among the elite and powerful in U.S. government.

Chansley's lawyer argued for his client's pretrial release citing President Biden's inauguration and COVID-19 restrictions in jail that, he said, make it "impossible" for the two to communicate privately. The lawyer argued that Chansley's faith precludes him from taking the COVID-19 vaccine.

Lamberth declined to release him and focused, in part, on the accusation that Chansley stormed the Capitol with a dangerous weapon. Chansley's attorney described it as a flagpole with a "spear finial."

Lamberth noted Chansley's refusal to listen to U.S. Capitol Police and other law enforcement officers during the breach as proof that, if released, he wouldn't comply with conditions of his release or follow orders from police.

Additionally, the judge said Chansley's own language on social media and during the Capitol riots can be perceived as threatening and promising future violent actions. That included comments Chansley made supporting the hanging of "traitors," according to the judge's ruling.

One of those threats was directed at Vice President Mike Pence. Details from court documents say Chansley scrawled on a paper Pence left behind when he fled the Senate chamber during the siege. Chansley wrote, "It's only a matter of time. Justice is coming." He then repeated that phrase to a reporter filming inside the Senate chamber that day.

Chansley called the FBI in the days following the insurrection and said he was glad he entered the Senate chamber and said Pence was a "child trafficking traitor."

Lamberth, in his conclusion, wrote: "These are not the actions of a person who is shy about breaking the law."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.