Who is Rachel Powell? Pennsylvania mother of 8 aka 'bullhorn lady' faces 47 years for role in Capitol riots
A mother of 8 from Pennsylvania, who was one of the many who stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, is now being charged by the DOJ for her alleged involvement in the riot. Rachel Powell who is also known as "the bullhorn lady" and "pink hat lady" was taken into custody by federal authorities on Thursday night in New Castle, Pennsylvania.
According to the latest emerging reports, Powell has been charged with obstruction, destruction of property, entering a restricted space without authority and disruption. KDKA's Andy Sheehan tweeted, "BREAKING: Rachel Powell is charged with obstruction, destruction of property, entering restricted space without authority, disruption. @KDKA."
BREAKING: Rachel Powell is charged with obstruction, destruction of property, entering restricted space without authority, disruption. @KDKA— Andy Sheehan (@AndySheehankdka) February 5, 2021
The 40-year-old mother reportedly turned herself in to authorities after finding out that she would face criminal charges, Michael Engle, Powell's attorney, reportedly told the Associated Press. "She wanted to turn herself in to face these charges and address them head-on," he said.
According to reports, earlier that day, FBI agents conducted a "court authorized" search at her home in Mercer County, after declaring her a suspect in the ongoing investigations of the Washington, D.C., riot. She is scheduled to appear in court on Friday afternoon with federal prosecutors reportedly expecting to request her detention pending trial. But Engle said he will seek her release. "Ms. Powell is certainly not a risk of flight given her strong family ties to the community, the fact that she has young children which she home-schools. She is not an individual of means that would even allow her to flee," he said according to CBC Pittsburgh news.
Who is Rachel Powell?
The FBI was looking for Powell for a long time since the riots. They also issued urgent calls for help on social media. "Help the #FBI identify this woman who allegedly unlawfully entered the U.S. Capitol on January 6. If you have information, submit a tip to http://fbi.gov/USCapitol. When providing a tip on any of the below photos, please refer to photograph 110. http://ow.ly/5akR50Daxws@FBIWFO," they tweeted. Throughout, this time, Powell, who worked at a bookstore, remained in hiding. Neighbors reportedly said they did not recall seeing Powell and some of her younger kids over the last week.
Help the #FBI identify this woman who allegedly unlawfully entered the U.S. Capitol on January 6. If you have information, submit a tip to https://t.co/buMd8vYXzH. When providing a tip on any of the below photos, please refer to photograph 110. https://t.co/QkV52OYdZ2 @FBIWFO pic.twitter.com/iANB6bZ96z— FBI (@FBI) January 17, 2021
Going through January 6, 2021, footage of the Capitol riots, one can clearly spot a woman wearing a pink hat. She is seen using a bullhorn to instruct the mob where to go. She has also been accused of using a large pipe to break through a window. She also seemed to have knowledge of the Capitol building’s floor plan, instructing insurrectionists where to go. According to an FBI agent's affidavit on a warrant issued Wednesday, Powell told a group of rioters "that they should 'coordinate together if you are going to take this building'" and adds, "you have another window to break".
In a recent profile in The New Yorker, Powell went on record to discuss her role in the riots but stopped just short of admitting offenses she is accused of. "I was not a part of a plot - organised, whatever," she said while speaking from an undisclosed location. "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," she said. When asked by the news outlet if she would have acted differently if given the chance, Powell replied: "I try not to think about that. There are some things that are just worth blocking out." In the New Yorker piece, she also denied having any knowledge of the building.
If convicted on all charges, Powell could face a maximum sentence of 47 years in prison.
Powell is among more than 140 people who face charges for participating in the January 6 attack. The riots left five people dead, including Capitol Hill Police Officer Brian Sicknick. Others who have been charged include Jake Angeli or the 'QAnon Shaman', a rioter who was seen wearing a fur hat with horns, along with members of the far-right Proud Boys organization.
Powell's shocking journey
In 2016, Powell didn't vote for Trump. At the time, she had written on Facebook that she was 'uncomfortable' about him and 'disturbed' by how many people 'supported him'. But over the course of his presidency, she gradually became his supporter, even attending rallies that involved various far-right groups and conspiracy theorists. In 2020, her Facebook posts reportedly turned more harmful. She became a Covid-denying conspiracy theorist who latched onto the spurious fraud claims spouted by the likes of Alex Jones and Rudy Giuliani.
Powell has shocked her neighbors with her actions. "It's crazy. We're Republican but we'd never do something like that. Biden's the president right now. Live with it. Get over it," Teresa Chisholm told CBS Pittsburgh.