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Actor arrested in Jan. 6 riots granted release despite bizarre court statements

Actor arrested in Jan. 6 riots granted release despite bizarre court statements
Federal prosecutors submitted a photo alleged to be of actor James Beeks participating in the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Photo courtesy Department of Justice

Nov. 29 (UPI) -- A Broadway actor accused of participating in the Jan. 6 insurrection was allowed pre-trial release by a federal judge in Washington Monday despite claiming not to recognize the authority of U.S. courts.

Chief Judge Beryl Howell ruled that James Beeks, a 49-year-old actor who played Judas in the Broadway musical Jesus Christ Superstar, could remain free pending his federal trial even though he appeared to anger the judge with nonsensical answers and bizarre claims, Politico and CNN reported.

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"I am an American standing under public law and I am here by special divine appearance," Beeks told Howell during a videoconference, adding at another point, "I cannot represent myself because I am myself."

Calling those answers "gobbledygook," Howell referred to two affidavits that Beeks had submitted in which he appeared to claim that U.S. courts did not hold authority over him as a "sovereign citizen" -- a far-right movement whose adherents claim that they alone should decide which laws to obey and which to ignore.

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"A defendant who rejects the jurisdiction of the court...rejects the rule of law is typically not released pre-trial," Howell said, although ultimately ruling that Beeks could be released once he agreed to wear a GPS monitor among other restrictions.

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Beeks was arrested in Milwaukee last week on charges of obstruction of an official proceeding and unlawfully entering a restricted building or grounds stemming from his alleged participation in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Prosecutors say Beeks is a member of far-right group Oath Keepers who, "with hands on each other's shoulders, marched up the east side of the Capitol steps and assisted with breaching the Rotunda doors."

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Once inside the building, they alleged, Beeks "joined with several co-conspirators in an unsuccessful attempt to push down the hallway connecting the Rotunda to the Senate. A line of Metropolitan Police Department Officers repelled the mob."

During the assault, they said, Beeks wore a black helmet and goggles and carried a black shield, "which he said was bulletproof."

The Orlando, Fla., native was arrested in Milwaukee where he was performing the role of Judas in a production of Jesus Christ Superstar under the stage name "James T. Justis."

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Prior to his arrest, federal investigators observed him in the role at shows in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

They also found that Beeks "regularly performs as a Michael Jackson impersonator" and found Instagram photos that showed a man appearing to be Beeks wearing the "BAD" tour jacket alongside the hashtag #jesuschristsuperstar.

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Sgt. Aquilino Gonell of the U.S. Capitol Police wipes away tears Tuesday as he testifies before members of the Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Pool Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/UPI | License Photo

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