Rachel Powell

Law and Order blog via Facebook

Rachel Powell wears a mesh "mask" in a Facebook video.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Mercer County woman accused of offenses stemming from the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol will face a judge to defend her use of a mesh mask, which could have violated the terms of her release from jail.

Rachel Marie Powell, of New Lebanon, could be ordered back to jail after a hearing before U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth.

In an order dated Friday, Lamberth cited a social media video, which showed Powell wearing a "see-through mesh mask" at her place of employment, Mr. Bookman, a book store in Franklin, Pa. Court documents indicate that the video was posted March 31 on a Mr. Bookman social media account.

Powell has been listed in a press release as a media contact for Mr. Bookman. An attempt Sunday to contact Powell through the phone number listed in the Mr. Bookman press release was unsuccessful.

Last year, Powell and Ben Wilkinson, owner of Mr. Bookman, participated in protests at the Mercer County Courthouse against state and federal restrictions, including wearing masks and ordered closures of "non-essential" businesses.

She was indicted in March on charges of obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting; destruction of government property; entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon; disorderly and destructive behavior in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon; engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon; disorderly conduct in a capitol building; and acts of physical violence in the capitol buildings or grounds.

The charges stem from the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot, when supporters of former President Donald J. Trump broke into the Capitol Building and disrupted a joint session of Congress to ratify President Joe Biden's electoral college victory over Trump.

Powell is accused of using, with other riot participants, a pipe as a battering ram to destroy a window of the Capitol. The FBI said she used a bullhorn to direct other rioters during the attack.

Judge Beryl Howell approved Powell's release from with conditions including that she wear a mask so she, "would not risk the health and safety of the community when she left her house," according to the court order issued Friday.

Lamberth said in the order that "no reasonable person could think that (Powell's) 'mask' complied" with Howell's order.

In the court order filed Friday, Lamberth said pre-trial services staff contacted Powell and asked her what she did with the mesh mask. Powell said threw it away on her attorney's recommendation.

Lamberth said Powell will have to explain how wearing the mask did not violate the release conditions, and her attorney will have to address the allegation that he told a client to discard or destroy evidence.

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