The FBI has arrested a woman seen on video participating in the Capitol riots last month while apparently directing the insurrectionists with a bullhorn and donning a pink hat, after the mother of eight defended her involvement in the deadly mob in a new interview.
Rachel Marie Powell was arrested by authorities on Thursday in Pennsylvania and charged with obstruction, violent entry/disorderly conduct, depredation of government property and entering a restricted building with a dangerous weapon. She could face decades in prison if convicted on all counts, reports said.
The New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow interviewed Ms Powell before she was charged on Thursday for a report which detailed how she seemingly became influenced by conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones of Infowars ahead of the 2020 elections.
“I was not part of a plot — organized, whatever,” she said. “I have no military background. … I’m a mom with eight kids. That’s it. I work. And I garden. And raise chickens. And sell cheese at a farmers’ market.”
Ms Powell, who has since described herself as a cheese vendor for local farmers markets with “no military background,” earned herself the moniker “pink hat lady” after videos of her storming the Capitol and seemingly instructing others went viral during the attacks, which left at least five people dead, including United States Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick.
According to the filings, Ms Powell smashed a window in the Capitol building to illegally gain entry into the facilities as Congress convened to certify former President Donald Trump’s defeat in the 2020 elections.
The ex-president delivered a controversial speech just before the insurrection on 6 January, urging his supporters to march to the Capitol and saying at one point: “If you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
Scores of alleged insurrectionists have been arrested in the wake of the riots, with the FBI reporting having received over 100,000 pieces of digital evidence submitted by Americans across the country. Countless videos posted to social media showed rioters like Ms Powell charging up the footsteps of the Capitol as the mob clashed with police, breached security measures and broke into the building, leading to a six-hour delay in the vote certification.
Ms Powell can be heard on video shouting towards the insurrectionists within the Capitol: “People should probably coordinate together if you’re going to take this building.”
At one point, she adds: “We got another window to break to make in-and-out easy.”
Defending her actions before her arrest this week, Ms Powell told the New Yorker: “Listen, if somebody doesn’t help and direct people, then do more people die? … That’s all I’m going to say about that. I can’t say anymore. I need to talk to an attorney.”