Jessica Watkins, one of nine members of the Oath Keepers charged with plotting the Capitol attack on January 6, told the judge that she plans to “cancel her membership” with the militia group.
Watkins said that she was “appalled” by her fellow Oath Keepers, and that she was “humiliated” by her arrest.
“I did it out of the love of my country but I think it’s time to let all of that go,” the Army veteran who ran an Ohio bar said during the hearing held via videoconference. “I’m not a criminally minded person… I am humiliated that I am even here today,” she added.
“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.”
Watkins said she helped form an Ohio State Regular Militia to assist law enforcement as needed, but now she wanted to focus on her small business, the Jolly Roger Bar and Grill in Woodstock, just north of Columbus.
Watkins comments came during a hearing before Federal Judge Amit P. Mehta, seeking release from custody before trial. Watkins’ comments were surprising as defendants rarely, if ever, address the court during routine hearings over things like detention, because everything they say can be used against them by prosecutors.
“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.”
Watkins renouncement of the Oath Keepers is an interesting contrast from her previous comments in defense of the militia group. To the leader of the Oath Keepers regarding a media report, she earlier said, “If he has anything negative to say about us OATHKEEPERS, I’ll let you know so we can sue harder. Class action style. Oathkeepers are the shit. They rescued cops, WE saved lives and did all the right things.”
In deciding against her release, Judge Mehta cited the weapons, tactical gear, and recipe for a destructive device found in her home in deciding against her release.
She expressed “a desire to fight, kill and die over the result of this election,” he said. “Again, these aren’t just mere expressions. They’ve actually been followed up by conduct … While you have today denounced the Oath Keepers, you have renounced your affiliation with them, I have to balance that against your prior conduct. There is a continued risk, it seems to me, that once you are released, that you will reaffiliate yourself with these groups and these people.”