During the Jan. 6 insurrection, Chansley was photographed several times during the riot at the Capitol, leading to five deaths and several injuries. Chansley, who hails from Phoenix, is a YouTuber who supports the political leanings of conservative group QAnon. The Arizona man can be seen wearing a fur with horns and face paint that resembled the design of the American flag. He turned himself in to his local FBI field office after returning from Washington, D.C.
He is charged with entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. Chansley is one of more than 100 people who face charges in federal and superior court for their roles in the siege of the Capitol.
He made his initial appearance at a Phoenix federal courtroom telephonically last month. He did not speak, but his lawyer spoke with Judge Deborah Fine on his behalf about his restrictive diet, which may be due to religious reasons, according to the ABC-15 report.
Fine responded that it was “deeply concerning” that Chansley had not eaten in days since being jailed, so she ordered the public defender to work with the U.S. Marshal’s Office on the dietary concerns.
“We will abide by the judge’s order,” David Gonzales, U.S. Marshal for the District of Arizona, told ABC-15. Gonzales added that Chansley will be provided food in line with a shaman’s strict organic diet.
During a Wednesday hearing on the motion, Judge Royce Lamberth granted the request for organic food after Watkins said it was “a choice between starvation, death, and consuming something contrary to his long-held faith.”
Since the incident, Chansley’s defense attorney said the conservative YouTuber has had a change of heart.
“He has come to grasp that fact that the former president really didn’t love him and that all the (expletive) about (former President Donald) Trump’s army and all the social media-driven conspiracy theories led to a lot of the vulnerability,” Watkins told The Daily Beast on Wednesday.
Chansley won’t ingest “chemicals, preservatives and GMOs that would compromise the integrity of his faith,” Watkins told the publication.
“Just like an Orthodox Jew would not feast on canned ham while incarcerated.” (Prosecutors, however, noted in prior filings that Chansley regularly takes drugs including peyote and mushrooms — and lied about it to authorities.)
The motion included a handwritten plea from Chansley stating that, for eight years, he has only eaten “traditional food that has been made by God.” “Being w/o food is stressful due to the way it affects my serotonin levels,” Chansley wrote to prison officials. “I am humbly requesting a few organic canned vegetables, canned tuna (wild caught), or organic canned soups.”
“I will continue to pray through the pain and do my best not to complain. I simply ask that you understand that the physical effects of not eating organic are harmful to my body & bio-chemistry,” he added.