Assault on Congress: far-right activist charged with conspiracy

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A far-right activist was arrested Tuesday and charged with conspiracy after the deadly assault on Congress on January 6 in Washington, US justice said.

Thomas Caldwell, in his sixties and living in northern Virginia, is accused of having organized a small group associated with the movement of the Oath Keepers, which brings together a myriad of violent anti-government groups across the country, to enter “voluntarily” in the Congress building.

The violence of January 6 was chaotic, disorganized and typical of a spontaneous riot. But the videos, photos and communications analyzed since the violence carried out by supporters of Donald Trump suggest a disturbing level of preparation and organization, characteristic of militia groups who regularly train in weapons and guerrilla warfare.

According to the federal police investigation, Mr. Caldwell, who appears to have “a leadership role in the Oath Keepers”, “planned and coordinated” his action by designating a hotel in the Washington area to his alleged accomplices. “It’s a good location and it would allow us to hunt at night if we wanted,” he explained in a message on Facebook posted on January 1.

Among his accomplices, the FBI cites a woman, Jessica Watkins, and a man, Donovan Crowl, who were arrested Monday in Ohio and are accused of breaking into a prohibited building.

A 38-year-old former military member and member of an Ohio militia, Jessica Watkins posted messages and photos on Jan.6 showing her, in riot gear, near the Capitol.

“Me, before forcing the entrance to the Capitol,” she explains on her Speaking account. “Yes, we stormed the Capitol”, she adds later on her account, claiming to have “created historical events”.

Donovan Crowl, a 50-year-old former Navy member of the same militia as Jessica Watkins, also publicly admitted his presence during the assault in an interview with New Yorker magazine.

He explained that he had gone to Washington to “ensure the safety of a VIP” which he did not identify, and assured that his intentions were “peaceful”.

Nearly 90 people have been charged, including at least five for “conspiracy”, for the violence in Congress, which left five dead.

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