‘QAnon shaman’ granted organic food in jail after report of deteriorating health

Amanda M. Rye

A federal judge on Wednesday ordered that the “QAnon shaman,” who was charged with taking part in the deadly riots at the Capitol, get organic food in a D.C. correctional facility after his lawyer told the court that his client needed the special diet for religious and health reasons.

a person wearing a costume and holding a sign: Jacob Anthony Chansley, a Qanon believer, speaks to a crowd of Donald Trump supporters in Phoenix on Nov. 5, 2020.

© AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills
Jacob Anthony Chansley, a Qanon believer, speaks to a crowd of Donald Trump supporters in Phoenix on Nov. 5, 2020.

Because of his “shamanic belief system and way of life,” eating food that isn’t organic or has “unnatural chemicals” would cause the client, Jacob Chansley, “systemic responses that are not simply discomforting, but debilitating and, notably, dehydrating,” attorney Albert Watkins wrote in a filing on Wednesday. Chansley had lost more than 20 pounds and his condition was “declining,” Watkins wrote.

“[N]on-organic food, which contains unnatural chemicals, would act as an ‘object intrusion’ onto his body and cause serious illness if he were to eat it. An ‘object intrusion,’ is the belief that disease originates outside the body from unhealthy objects coming into the body,” Watkins wrote. “In shamanic traditions, the body, mind, and soul are interconnected, and the well-being of all three are necessary for my client to be able to practice his faith.”

U.S. District Court Judge Judge Royce Lamberth had a hearing on the request Wednesday afternoon and ordered that Chansley get the organic diet.

Last week, Chansley filed the request for organic food, which he said was all he had eaten for the past eight years, according to court documents. He said the last time he ate was the morning of Jan. 25, and asked for some canned vegetables, canned wild-caught tuna or organic canned soup.

“I will continue to pray thru the pain and do my best not to complain,” Chansley wrote in the request. “I have strayed from my spiritual diet only a few times over the last 8 years with detrimental physical effects. As a spiritual man I am willing to suffer for my beliefs, hold to my convictions, and the weight of their consequences.”

Eric Glover, general counsel for the D.C. Department of Corrections, disputed that Chansley hadn’t eaten in a Tuesday email to Watkins filed in court documents.

At a hearing on Friday, a judge urged Chansley’s lawyer to try to work out the issues related to his diet with Glover. Chansley’s request for organic food was denied on Monday, according to the documents, which said his claims had no “religious merit.”

In the filing on Wednesday, Watkins called for Chansley to be released before his trial, saying that he doesn’t have a criminal history and wasn’t “part of a grand scheme to … overthrow the Government,” and that it would remove any issues with Chansley’s “worsening health situation.” Watkins wrote on Wednesday that Chansley had also been compliant with the FBI.

The judge in the case has said he’d be open to considering bail for him in early March. That request was withdrawn on Wednesday after Chansley was granted organic food, but “it is expected a renewed motion for pretrial release will be filed in short order,” Watkins told POLITICO.

The Phoenix man was among the first people indicted by federal prosecutors in wake of the Capitol insurrection, which left five people dead. Chansley, also known as Jake Angeli, was charged with violating the Federal Anti-Riot Act and obstructing Congress, among other charges. Then-President Donald Trump was subsequently impeached on a charge of inciting an insurrection. Chansley would also be willing to testify at Trump’s Senate trial next week, Watkins has previously said.

Prosecutors have argued that Chansley was “an active participant in” the “violent insurrection,” suggesting that charges of sedition or insurrection could be in the works for people involved.

The horns and fur that Chansley wore on Jan. 6 made him one of the most recognizable faces of the riots and were all part of his “Shaman beliefs,” Watkins wrote in the filing on Wednesday.

Watkins also argued in his Wednesday filing that Trump incited the violence by saying at a pre-riot rally that “‘if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” In an interview on CNN in the wake of the riots, Watkins said Chansley “felt like he was answering” the president’s call and called on Trump to give him a pardon.

“He felt like his voice was, for the first time, being heard,” Watkins said of Chansley. “And what ended up happening, over the course of the lead-up to the election, over the course of the period from the election to Jan. 6 — it was a driving force by a man he hung his hat on, he hitched his wagon to. He loved Trump. Every word, he listens to him.”

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