Broadway actor playing Judas in ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ charged with taking part in Capitol riot

James Beeks identified wearing Michael Jackson world tour jacket and by image of his right ear

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Wednesday 24 November 2021 22:24

Related Video: US Capitol rioter ‘QAnon Shaman’ sentenced to 41 months in prison

A Broadway actor playing Judas in a national tour of Jesus Christ Superstar is the latest person to be charged in connection with the 6 January assault on the US Capitol.

James Beeks was arrested on Tuesday and charged by the Justice Department with a felony count of obstruction on Congress and a misdemeanour count of unlawfully entering a restricted building grounds.

The Orlando, Florida native was identified by law enforcement officials from photos of the Capitol riot in which he was pictured wearing a Michael Jackson BAD album world tour jacket, wearing a black helmet, and carrying a homemade shield.

News footage and surveillance video helped confirm his identity. While his face was covered, one way the FBI was able to identify him was based on an image of his right ear from that day, comparing it to how it appeared in his own YouTube clips.

He was arrested in Milwaukee where the show was touring to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the musical. Federal investigators said they had “observed” him in the role of Judas at shows this month in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Mr Beeks performs under the stage name James T Justis.

He made his initial appearance in the Eastern District of Wisconsin and was released pending further court proceedings.

According to court documents, Mr Beeks joined with others to forcibly enter the Capitol. At about 2.30pm on 6 January, a group of Oath Keeper members and affiliates marched in “stack” formation into the Capitol grounds and then up the east steps of the Capitol to the area outside of the Rotunda doors.

Mr Beeks was part of a mob of people, including some who attacked law enforcement. At 2.38pm, the doors were breached, and the group stormed into the Capitol.

Once inside the Capitol, the group split up. Half of them, including Mr Beeks, tried to push their way through a line of law enforcement officers guarding a hallway that led to the Senate chamber. Law enforcement forcibly repelled their advance.

They regrouped in the Rotunda and then left the building at approximately 3.04pm.

Prior to the attack Mr Beeks joined up with a group of Oath Keepers walking from the Ellipse to the Capitol, and according to the Justice Department, appears to have stood out in his Michael Jackson jacket while surrounded by people most of whom were wearing camouflage-combat attire.

Mr Beeks regularly performs as a Michael Jackson impersonator and has a YouTube page describing him as one of the “top Michael Jackson tribute artists in the US”.

A total of 675 people have now been arrested in connection with crimes relating to the breach of the US Capitol. More than 210 individuals were charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement.

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