Photos of Rachel Powell allegedly participating in the deadly riot at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2020. (Source: FBI)
Wearing an easy-to-identify pink hat may have been the first mistake for a Pennsylvania mother of eight who participated in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, urging rioters on with a bullhorn.On Thursday the FBI searched the Mercer County home of Rachel Powell, the 40-year-old woman better known as the “Pink Hat Lady.” The home was vacant at the time of the search, but she was later taken into custody at the FBI’s New Castle office Thursday night, a spokeswoman for the law enforcement agency told VICE News.
She’s being charged with obstruction, depredation of government property, entering a restricted building, entering a restricted building with a dangerous weapon, and violent entry, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office told VICE News. She’s set to appear in federal court Friday at 3 p.m.At the time of the FBI’s search, Powell’s neighbors told the local CBS affiliate KDKA-2 in Pittsburgh that the mother and several of her children had not been seen in over a week.Since Jan. 16, the FBI had been searching for the unidentified woman seen using a battering ram to break a window into the Capitol building and later barking orders through a bullhorn, telling other rioters to better organize their efforts. “We should probably coordinate together if we’re going to take this building,” she was recorded saying from outside of a Capitol building window that day.Charging docs shared with VICE News Friday also accuse Powell of telling one rioter asking for floor plans of the Capitol building that the mob “just needs a plan.”“We need enough people. We need to push forward,” she responds, according to the documents, before giving detailed instructions about the layout of the building.The FBI’s Pittsburgh officer later told KDKA-2 that they searched the home belonging to Powell looking for evidence of the woman’s whereabouts, confirming that she was under suspicion of playing a part in organizing and directing the assault on Washington, D.C., that resulted in the deaths of five people.
“We are conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity at that location,” an FBI official told the local news station. “We are seeking the whereabouts of Rachel Powell."
But Powell, who was featured in a lengthy profile published in the New Yorker earlier this week detailing her love of the former president, denies she was part of any organized effort to overthrow the 2020 presidential election last month. In the story, which featured Powell’s first public statements since appearing on the FBI’s growing list of people wanted in connection to the D.C. riots, she said she had little to do with the actual planning of the attempted coup and that her actions at the Capitol were “spontaneous.”“I was not part of a plot—organized, whatever,” she told the New Yorker. “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.”Powell did not immediately respond to VICE News’ request for comment.She is one of more than 140 people who’ve been sought in connection to the Jan. 6 insurrection, including several prominent leaders of the white supremacist group the Proud Boys and the so-called QAnon Shaman, who recently won his battle to receive organic food in jail while awaiting trial.