Doug Jensen protests against US Capitol police officers as they try to stop supporters of US President Donald Trump from entering the Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Saul LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
Doug Jensen was one of the first people who breached the Capitol building on Jan. 6, and was caught on camera wearing a QAnon T-shirt and chasing a Capitol Police officer through the building. Along with the “QAnon Shaman,” Jensen has become one of the most recognizable faces of the Capitol riots.
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But now, after spending five months “languishing in a DC jail cell”, Jensen has had a change of heart, calling the conspiracy theory that led him from his home in Des Moines, Iowa, to the nation’s capital “a pack of lies.”Jensen will appear before a judge in Washington on Tuesday, seeking bail. Christopher Davis, Jensen’s lawyer, will tell the court that far from being the culprit, his client is in fact the victim in all this.“[My client] became a victim of numerous conspiracy theories that were being fed to him over the internet by a number of very clever people, who were uniquely equipped with slight, if any, moral or social consciousness,” Davis wrote in a document filed ahead of Tuesday’s hearing.Davis also pointed the finger at former President Donald Trump, saying that Jensen “came to the Capitol, at the direction of the President of the United States, to demonstrate that he was a ‘true patriot.’”Jensen was arrested days after the riots when he handed himself in to authorities in Des Moines. He was initially charged with civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding, assaulting or impeding officers, disorderly conduct in a Capitol building and parading, and demonstrating or picketing a Capitol building.
In February he was additionally charged with entering a restricted building with a dangerous weapon and disorderly or disruptive conduct in a restricted building with a dangerous weapon. He had a pocket knife on him when he entered the Capitol, but Davis says it was simply for his own protection.
In the filing, Davis argues that not even the world’s most renowned science fiction authors—citing George Orwell and Aldous Huxley—could have predicted what happened on Jan. 6. Davis describes the current situation as:“A billionaire reality TV show host turned president becoming the savior to a disillusioned, pandemic-weary, largely blue-collar working-class middle America. The internet, with its lightning speed, and few if any reality checks, spawned yet an even more bizarre offshoot, QAnon.”Jensen became one of the most recognizable rioters when he was captured on video at the front of a large group of people who chased Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman through the building. But Davis claims his client was not part of an organized group and that his intention was simply to be present for what he thought was going to be the fulfillment of the promises QAnon adherents have been making for years. “He simply went to observe ‘The Storm,’” Davis wrote. “He was at the front of the crowd but in no way leading anyone. He was in front of everyone for the now disclosed silly reason to get Q recognized for ‘The Storm’ that was about to take place.”Davis wrote that Jensen, who is married with young children, became involved with the QAnon movement because of the conspiracies it was spreading about a network of pedophiles preying on children.“A fiercely protective family man, this was a powerful theme for him to latch onto,” Davis wrote, adding that Jensen’s upbringing made him susceptible to such messages.”
“This played into Jensen’s unique background. The product of a dysfunctional childhood, he spent the majority of his childhood in foster care.”QAnon’s popularity exploded during 2020, when it spread from fringe platforms like 8chan and onto more mainstream social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. But rather than sharing overt QAnon slogans and phrases, those sharing the conspiracy there latched onto the seemingly benign “Save The Children” branding—a tactic that allowed the conspiracy theory to spread much further than it had previously.But Jensen was already a believer by this stage. Davis did not identify who he believes led Jensen to become a QAnon adherent, but an analysis of Jensen’s social media accounts showed that he first dove down the QAnon rabbit hole in 2018, after watching a video created by Joe M, one of the most prolific and influential QAnon boosters.
As is the case for many who have fallen into the QAnon cult, Jensen’s family has been impacted too. Davis says that his client had always worked one or two jobs to support his family, and they are now facing financial hardship because he has been behind bars for the last five months. “He came to DC to support the president; he did not foresee the destruction of his family. This love of family is the anchor that has brought Doug Jensen full circle.”