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Jury Selected In Oath Keepers Sedition Trial

A jury was chosen in the trial of Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes and other members of the extremist group who face seditious conspiracy and other charges in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. Vetting over three days revealed a political and cultural clash that posed tests both for the Justice Department prosecutors and defense attorneys for the leaders of the right-wing anti-government Oath Keepers. The movement recruits members willing to prepare themselves for eventual battles to prevent federal tyranny, reports the Washington Post. Rhodes and four co-defendants — Kelly Meggs, Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins, and Thomas Caldwell — have pleaded not guilty to felony charges, including conspiring for weeks after the 2020 presidential election to unleash political violence to prevent President Biden’s swearing-in. The defendants allegedly led a group that traveled to Washington, D.C., staged firearms nearby, and forced entry through the Capitol Rotunda doors after marching single file up the steps wearing combat and tactical gear and Oath Keepers insignia. Rhodes and his co-defendants claimed their actions were defensive, taken in anticipation of what they believed would be a lawful order from President Trump deputizing armed groups under the Insurrection Act to stop Biden from becoming president.

More than half of the nine men and seven women (including four alternates) selected to serve on the panel that will judge Rhodes are lawyers or employees and contractors of the federal government whose authority the defendants are accused of conspiring by force to oppose. Rhodes’s radical, “insurrectionist doctrine" holds that the Constitution’s right to bear arms extends not just to “militia” or the National Guard but to private citizens, and further that individuals have the right to violently oppose the government for personal or subjective reasons, extremism expert Brian Levin said. The extremist movement grew and morphed under Trump from simply defending gun ownership to opposing coronavirus restrictions, changing racial demographics, and finally, refusing to accept Biden’s electoral victory. Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University at San Bernardino, said, “The violent, premeditated and organized parts of this attack on our Capitol is one of the most toxic byproducts of the conspiratorial and violent politics that we are in today.”


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