Elon Musk demands release of ‘QAnon Shaman’
SpaceX and Twitter CEO Elon Musk has called for the release of Jacob Chansley, the war-painted Trump supporter jailed for his role in the January 6, 2021, riot on Capitol Hill. Chansley, nicknamed the ‘QAnon Shaman’ by the media, became infamous for his participation in the disturbance, but recently released video footage shows him peacefully walking through the Capitol with a police escort.
Musk tweeted a video on Friday showing Chansley encouraging his fellow protesters to “go home,” telling them that Donald Trump had asked them to leave the area. “Free Jacob Chansley,” he captioned the video.
“Chansley was falsely portrayed in the media as a violent criminal who tried to overthrow the state and who urged others to commit violence. But here he is urging people to be peaceful and go home,” Musk wrote in a follow-up tweet.
“I’m not part of MAGA,” he added, referring to Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ movement, “but I do believe in fairness of justice.”
Free Jacob Chansley https://t.co/8BbeXF2Fye— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 10, 2023
Chansley pleaded guilty in 2021 to one count of obstructing an official proceeding, and was sentenced to 41 months in prison. One of the first protesters to enter the Capitol on the day of the riot, Chansley was photographed inside the Senate chamber wearing a horned fur helmet with his face painted in the colors of the American flag.
The federal judge who sentenced Chansley described his actions as “horrific” and “terrifying.” However, video footage aired by Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Monday showed Chansley walking around the interior of the Capitol alongside two police officers, before dedicating a prayer to the officers.
The Democrat-led January 6 Committee – formed to investigate Trump’s culpability in the riot – kept this footage under wraps. It was provided to Carlson by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, after the GOP retook control of the House of Representatives in January.
“Chansley got 4 years in prison for a non-violent, police-escorted tour?” Musk wrote in another tweet on Friday. That tweet was “fact checked” when shared on Instagram, with the platform linking to media reports claiming that police repeatedly asked Chansley to leave the building, and therefore did not “help” him around the Capitol.
“The Capitol Police literally opened the Senate chamber door for him on camera!” Musk exclaimed. “But who are you going to believe, Instagram ‘fact-checkers’ or your own lying eyes!?”
Chansley is one of nearly 1,000 protesters arrested in connection with the riot, 306 of whom were charged with obstructing an official proceeding, according to Justice Department figures. The vast majority – 919 – of defendants were charged with entering a restricted federal building, while 326 were charged with assaulting or disobeying a police officer. Of those detained, 518 have pleaded guilty, most of them to misdemeanor offenses.