‘Stripped NAKED and left in cell with lights on’: Trans woman charged in Capitol riot alleges mistreatment in jail

A transgender woman charged in the January 6 riot at the US Capitol says she was held naked in a constantly lit jail cell for four days, asking the court to be placed under house arrest instead. Jail officials denied mistreatment.

Jessica Watkins is one of the nine “Oath Keepers” charged over the events on January 6, when supporters of President Donald Trump barged into the US Capitol amid the joint session of Congress meeting to certify Joe Biden’s election. 

Ahead of her detention hearing on Tuesday before a federal judge, Watkins’s lawyers filed a motion alleging her arm injury went untreated, and when she went on hunger strike to get medical attention, she was “stripped naked and put on suicide watch” and “left naked in a cell with lights on 24 hours a day for four days in full view of everyone else,” according to the Butler Journal-News.

Watkins, 38, was first booked into the Montgomery County jail upon her arrest in January. She was classified as a male, along with a note to “keep separate,” the paper said. US Army records list her as serving from 2001 to 2003 as Jeremy David Watkins.

However, the jail said on Sunday that “the allegations that were described did not occur in our facility.” Transferred to the Butler County lockup, Watkins spent four days there in a medical unit cell, separated from the general population, Sheriff Richard K. Jones said. 

“She said she would rather be in an isolated area, because of her notoriety, I suppose,” he added.

The treatment of Watkins echoes the jail experience of another trans inmate, Chelsea Manning – likewise stripped and held in solitary during trial for supplying Iraq and Afghanistan documents to WikiLeaks a decade ago.

However, human rights and prison advocacy groups have been largely silent about the alleged Capitol rioters, many of whom have been held without bail for over a month. Meanwhile, former spies and some Democrat lawmakers have openly advocated using the same methods against people they dubbed “domestic violent extremists,” as the US has done against suspected terrorists during the ‘war on terror.’

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FILE PHOTO: Tear gas is released into a crowd of protesters during clashes with Capitol police at a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 US presidential election results by the US Congress, at the US Capitol Building in Washington, U.S, January 6, 2021
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Democrats and the mainstream media have characterized the January 6 riot as an “insurrection” and sought to impeach Trump over it, even invoking the same laws used to punish Confederates after the 1861-65 civil war. The nine “Oath Keepers” were not charged with insurrection, however, but with conspiring to obstruct official proceedings, trespassing and destruction of government property.

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