Broadway star James Beeks cleared over Jan 6 role after his own lawyer argues he was a ‘wannabe’

A former actor and Broadway star has been cleared of all charges related to his involvement in the Jan 6 Capitol riots.

James Beeks, a member of the Oath Keepers, was facing charges of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and civil disorder.

He was acquitted of both charges on Wednesday, but his co-defendant Donovan Crowl was convicted on both counts.

The Broadway star was playing Judas in a road company production of Jesus Christ Superstar when he was arrested in November 2021. He had reportedly travelled to Washington, DC on 6 January 2021 after reading online messages posted by Oath Keepers.

According to court documents, Mr Beeks had donned a jacket from Michael Jackson’s BAD world tour and approached a gathering of the Oath Keepers on their way to the Capitol. He told them he was a member of the organisation.

Once inside the building, Mr Beeks allegedly joined a group of Oath Keepers in attempting to breach a line of police officers stationed to protect a hallway leading to the Senate chamber.

The 49-year-old actor’s attorney Greg Hunter said Mr Beeks was not aware of the group’s intentions. “If he didn’t know what others intended, he couldn’t intend to do it,” Mr Hunter said, according to reports.

Mr Hunter told the court that Mr Beeks was a “hangers-on” and a “wannabe” among the Oath Keepers.

Meanwhile, Carmen Hernandez, the attorney for the other co-defendant Crowl, emailed a statement to The Hill about her client.

“Mr Crowl’s conduct on J6 [January 6] merited an acquittal. It was nearly identical to that of Mr Beeks, who was acquitted,” he said.

“And nearly identical to what thousands of other Americans who had come to Congress to express their views have done without facing felony prosecutions.”

“Unfortunately, Mr Crowl’s political opinions, which should be protected by the First Amendment and his association with others were his downfall,” she said.

Crowl’s sentencing is set for 17 November, according to court filings.

US district judge Amit Mehta, who convicted Crowl, said Mr Beeks didn’t post any messages on social media or exchange text messages with other extremists that could establish what his “state of mind” was leading up to the Capitol riot, unlike other Oath Keepers charged with riot-related crimes.

The judge also cited a lack of evidence about what Mr Beeks did inside the Capitol that could support a conviction for interfering with police.

“His actions must rise and fall on their own,” the judge said.

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