Pennsylvania woman who used bullhorn to direct Capitol rioters is convicted of Jan. 6 charges
Jul 18, 2023, 10:52 AM
(AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)
A Pennsylvania woman who used a bullhorn to direct rioters attacking the U.S. Capitol was convicted on Tuesday of charges that she joined the mob in an attempt to keep President Joe Biden out of the White House.
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth heard testimony without a jury before he convicted Rachel Marie Powell of felony charges stemming from the Jan. 6, 2021, siege. Powell, who was convicted of all nine counts in her indictment, is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 17, according to court records.
Powell, wearing a distinctive pink hat and fur-lined jacket hoodie, joined a mob of rioters who confronted police officers at bike rack barriers on the west side of the Capitol. She used her back to push against the police line, prosecutors said.
A video captured Powell using a bullhorn to encourage other rioters to “coordinate together if you’re going to take this building.” She also gave them “very detailed instructions” about the layout of the Capitol, according to an FBI agent’s affidavit.
Powell told rioters they had “another window to break.” She herself used an ice-axe and a large pipe to break a window, according to prosecutors.
Powell waived her right to a jury trial. The judge convicted her of charges that she interfered with police and obstructed the Jan. 6 joint session of Congress for certifying Biden’s 2020 electoral victory over Donald Trump.
A lawyer for Powell had no comment on the verdict.
Powell played a “leading role” during the riot, a prosecutor said at a February 2021 hearing.
“She is front and center in the incursion.” Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Aloi added, according to a transcript.
Powell was arrested nearly a month after the riot. FBI agents found several smashed cellular telephones, gun paraphernalia and other weapons when they searched her home.
Powell and her ex-husband shared custody of six minor children in 2021. She left her children at home when she went to Washington to attend the “Stop the Steal” rally, according to prosecutors.
Shortly before her arrest, The New Yorker interviewed Powell for an article headlined, “A Pennsylvania Mother’s Path to Insurrection.”
“Listen, if somebody doesn’t help and direct people, then do more people die?” she asked her interviewer.
Prosecutors said Powell “showed an inclination towards violence” before the Jan. 6 riot. She posted on Facebook in October 2020 that she agreed “with the possibility of civil war happening.”
“Unfortunately, the only way this is probably capable of being fixed is bloodshed because I’m not so sure our government can be fixed the political way anymore either,” she wrote.
Prosecutors also said Powell described her “surveillance” of an unidentified public official’s home in a November 2020 message to somebody who replied that they were “afraid to ask why” she was there.
More than 1,000 people have been charged with crimes related to the Capitol riot. Approximately 100 of them have been convicted by juries or judges. More than 600 others have pleaded guilty.
Associated Press writer Alanna Durkin Richer in Boston contributed to this report.