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Feds Charge Suspected ‘Pink Hat Lady’ For Participation In Capital Riot

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U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
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Federal authorities allege that Mercer County resident Rachel Powell used a pipe to smash a windown at the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection.

After being identified as a key figure in the deadly storming of the U.S. Capitol, Rachel Powell, of Sandy Lake, Pa., has been arrested for her alleged participation in the insurrection.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office based in Pittsburgh said in a statement that Powell had been taken into custody Thursday night in New Castle. She was charged in federal court Friday morning with obstruction, destruction of property, entering restricted ground with a dangerous weapon, and violent entry. She's set to make an initial court appearance Friday afternoon.

Powell had been dubbed the “Bullhorn Lady” and “Pink Hat Lady” by journalists and law-enforcement officials seeking to identify participants in the Capitol attack, The New Yorker magazine reported in an extensive profile of the 40-year-old mother of eight. Videos and photos of the assault seem to show Powell wearing a pink winter hat and issuing orders to other rioters through a bullhorn, according to the complaint filed against her in federal court Friday.

In the footage, “Powell is clearly seen speaking through a bullhorn and giving very detailed instructions about the layout of the Capitol building to others inside,” the complaint said.

The filing also includes images that appear to depict Powell “using a large pipe as a ramming device  to breach windows of the Capitol to gain access.” Powell then crawled into the structure through the broken window, the complaint said, and joined a large group of people.

In the weeks following the assault, the FBI sought the public’s help in locating the woman seen in those videos. Friday’s complaint said the agency received an anonymous tip that identified Powell, who The New Yorker said had gone into hiding.

In its story published Tuesday, the magazine said Powell formerly “sold cheese and yogurt at local farmers’ markets and used Facebook mostly to discuss yoga, organic food, and her children’s baseball games.” But last year, she began to use the platform more frequently to disseminate conspiracy theories, voice support for former President Trump, and criticize COVID-19 restrictions.

Powell’s purported role in directing rioters on how to infiltrate the Capitol has raised suspicions that she studied the building’s floor plan in preparation for the raid. But Powell denied to The New Yorker she had helped to plot the attack.

On Thursday, she joined four other western Pennsylvania residents who have been arrested for their alleged role in the Capitol riot. Jorden Mink, of Oakdale, remains in federal custody accused on six charges, including unlawful and violent entry onto the Capitol grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon, property destruction, and theft.

Sharon resident Matthew Perna has been released on bail after being charged in federal court with knowingly entering the Capitol grounds without lawful authority and engaging in disorderly conduct.

Kenneth Grayson, of Bridgeville, remains under home detention. He faces five federal charges, including disorderly and disruptive conduct and obstructing an official proceeding.

On Thursday, Peter Schwartz, a Kentucky man who lives in Uniontown, was arrested by federal authorities on allegations that he assaulted officers, unlawfully and violently entered restricted grounds and buildings, and obstructed law enforcement.

An-Li Herring is a reporter for 90.5 WESA, with a focus on economic policy, local government, and the courts. She previously interned for NPR Legal Affairs Correspondent Nina Totenberg in Washington, DC, and the investigations team at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. A Pittsburgh native, An-Li completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan and earned her law degree from Stanford University. She can be reached at aherring@wesa.fm.
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