Among the many right-wing groups who figured prominently in the January 6 insurrection was Oath Keepers, the far-right group of former policemen, former first responders, and former service(wo)men. One of their leaders, former Army Ranger Jessica Watkins, figured prominently in filings by prosecutors about just how far these domestic terrorists—and yes, these are terrorists—were willing to go. According to prosecutors, Watkins believed she came to Washington on Trump’s direct orders.
Later that week, Watkins claimed she met with Secret Service agents and was part of the security detail at the Save America rally. However, in a remarkable turnabout, late Friday she publicly renounced the Oath Keepers and denounced the insurrection.
“As soon as I’m out, whether acquittal or release, I’m canceling my Oath Keepers membership,” she said. “I have no desire to continue with people who say things like that.”
“We’re done with that lifestyle,” Watkins said. “We’ve got a struggling small business. I did it out of the love of my country, but I think it’s time to let all of that go … I don’t intend to read social media for amusement or political purposes. I think it’s just time for me to focus on my business.”
But Mehta didn’t buy it.
“I’ve thought about this quite hard, Miss Watkins,” the judge said. “And I think, at the end of the day, I just can’t get there. I don’t think putting you on home detention would ensure the safety of the community … You are an active participant, organizer, leader of others in engaging in this kind of conduct. The material found at your home certainly suggests further potential for organizing and further potential for violence.”
That “material” included a stash of weapons and tactical gear, as well as “a recipe for making a destructive device.” Mehta added that her previous desire to, as he put it, “fight, kill, and die over the result of this election” belied her claims to have not taken part in any violence on that horrible day. Therefore, he couldn’t justify letting her out on bail. One has to wonder if Mehta would have been more sympathetic if Watkins hadn’t claimed she’d done what she did out of love for America. We can do without that kind of love, thank you very much.
Sounds like Watkins is one of many people who thought expressing remorse for their role in the insurrection would be enough to get them out of jail. To my mind, the only way any claims of remorse will be believed is if they plead guilty. After all, those who took part in that horror deserve to have to answer for it for the rest of their lives.