Two Kansas women, arrested in deadly Capitol riot, expected peaceful pro-Trump protest

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Two Kansas women who said they traveled to the nation’s capital on Jan. 6 for a peaceful protest supporting Donald Trump have now been arrested in connection to the deadly riot that followed the former president’s speech and tweets.

Records from the U.S. District Court for Kansas show Jennifer Ruth Parks and Esther Schwemmer were both arrested on Friday. Their Kansas cases show they are to be transferred to U.S. District Court for Washington, D.C.

Federal court records from the District of Columbia concerning the women’s cases remained sealed as of Sunday. However, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has released a complaint and statement of fact in Parks’s case that detail allegations against both women.

The records say the women admitted to traveling to DC together and entering the Capitol building. Parks has been charged with two counts of knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building without lawful authority and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. Charges against Schwemmer have not been publicly released.

The FBI interviewed Parks and Schwemmer, who are friends, on Jan. 17.

“Parks believed she was attending a peaceful rally in support of President Donald Trump,” an FBI agent wrote.

Trump had called for his supporters to come to the capital on Jan. 6, where he would speak during the “Save America March.” The storming of the Capitol building happened about two hours after the president’s speech, during which he used language that some people contend condoned violence to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s presidential win.

Trump was later impeached by the Democrat-led House and acquitted by the Republican-led Senate on a charge of incitement of insurrection.

There have now been at least seven Kansans arrested in connection to the attack, which happened as Congress was in a joint session to certify the vote count of the Electoral College of the 2020 Presidential Election. Proceedings in both the House and Senate were disrupted as rioters forced their way into the Capitol, destroying property and assaulting police officers along the way. Five people died, including a police officer.

The FBI got a tip on Jan. 11 that Parks participated in the “DC mob.” The tipster shared text messages reportedly sent by Parks’ daughter.

“So depressed over all of the cheating in the election right now,” the text read. “Mom and her friend went to Washington for the March. Wish I could have gone too. Lol.”

“We should all be climbing over the walls,” another text read. “They pushed us too far.”

Allegations of widespread voter fraud during the 2020 presidential election have been found to be false. Reuters reports that federal judges have dismissed more than 50 lawsuits by Trump and his allies challenging the election or its outcome, and U.S. election security officials have said the election was “the most secure in American history.”

The FBI used a photo of the friends provided by one of the women, which showed what they were wearing, to find additional images and video from security footage and officer body cameras. Agents said Schwemmer was wearing a Trump 2020 flag wrapped around her and a Make America Great Again beanie hat, among other clothing.

Schwemmer told the FBI that she and Parks were eating as they watched people run up to the Capitol building. She said a police officer told her not to climb on a barrier, so she climbed a tree to take a photo of the crowd. Members of the crowd suggested protesting peacefully in front of the Capitol.

“Schwemmer claimed that she and Parks walked to the front of the Capitol Building, encountered no barricades and no police officer told them to stop,” the FBI wrote. “Schwemmer saw the open doors to the U.S. Capitol Building and entered with Parks.”

Parks said they went into the building after the doors were broken, coming upon groups of people praying and singing. She sang the U.S. national anthem.

Schwemmer described the building as “messy and smelled bad.”

Schwemmer said they saw police, but none tried to stop them from walking around until one officer told them to leave. Parks said she tried to leave through the front door, but police directed her to leave down a hallway.

The documents do not state where in Kansas the women are from, though Parks’ cellphone has a 913 area code from the Kansas City area.

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