First, She Stormed A State Capitol With Ammon Bundy. Then, She Stormed Congress, Feds Say.

U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia
|
August 5, 2021 12:20 p.m.

First, she stormed the Idaho state capitol. Then, she stormed the U.S. Congress.

That’s according to an FBI agent’s affidavit in support of charges against Pam Hemphill, a member of the anti-government activist Ammon Bundy’s “People’s Rights” network who was arrested on Tuesday.

“We broke the same glass in Boise, Idaho,” Hemphill said in one video shot from the U.S. Capitol doors, flagged by the Idaho Statesman. “In Boise, Idaho, we did the same thing.”

Later, according to the affidavit, video surveillance footage showed Hemphill “enter the East side of the Capitol Building with a group of rioters” and then walk through the Capitol Rotunda.

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Hemphill now faces four misdemeanor charges, including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. She is scheduled to appear in court Thursday afternoon.

The details of Hemphill’s actions that day show the impact of several state Capitol breaches in the months preceding Jan. 6.

The breach of the Idaho capitol last August was one of several such incidents — alongside similar surges in Oregon and Michigan — in which mobs of people rushed into state legislative buildings in sometimes violent protest. As one Michigan legislator told TPM, referring to the Jan. 6 attack: “We saw this coming.”

In Idaho, a crew led by Bundy stormed the state legislative building in August last year, breaking a glass door in the process, leaving legislators spooked as they debated COVID-19 policy.

State police guarding the building were overwhelmed, with a spokesperson later telling the Statesman, “Idaho State Police personnel determined they could not have made arrests on the spot without elevating the potential for violence.” Bundy only faced a trespassing charge, for which he was eventually found guilty, after returning the following day and being arrested again. Now, he’s running for governor.

In a brief phone call with TPM Thursday, Bundy said Hemphill was involved early on in the People’s Rights movement, from the “second or third meeting.” He said he wasn’t aware of what she was doing at the Idaho Capitol when he and dozens of others stormed the building last August, but “If I was to guess, she would have been filming.”

By the time he stormed the state capitol last year, Bundy and his crew had spent months organizing a phone-tree-style group committed, at least at first, to defying COVID-19 public health orders. That group became People’s Rights, which has now expanded nationwide and been involved in all sorts of activity, including threats to take over the headgates of a canal in Oregon.

Boise State Public Radio, which first reported the charges against Hemphill, noted that she was a “founding member” of People’s Rights and could often be seen live-streaming at its events.

‘Its A WAR!’

According to the affidavit in Hemphill’s case from a Boise-based FBI agent, Hemphill broadcast her intentions in the days before the Capitol riot.

In a Facebook post on Dec. 28, for example, she allegedly wrote, “It’s not going to be a FUN Trump Rally that is planned for January 6th, its a WAR!”

“The fight for America is REAL, show up I don’t want to hear your excuses!” Hemphill added, per the affidavit. “We have no second chances, if Millions and I mean Millions show up we may have a chance. FIND A WAY!”

A couple days later, she allegedly posted about the upcoming protest again, posing with a gun.

U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia

Then, the day before the attack, Hemphill allegedly posted a video on her Facebook page, shot from Washington, D.C., in which she invoked the Idaho Capitol breach.

“I think everybody would be happy if uh, [unintelligible] got inside the Capitol and told them how they really felt. Cuz they’re sick and tired of being sick and tired,” she said, according to the affidavit, adding separately: “Let’s do this; let’s go to the Capitol. We did it in Boise.”

In response to a comment from someone nearby, Hemphill allegedly said: “Oh yeah. We broke the glass door. Watch the video. I’m with People’s Rights. Ammon Bundy.”

In a footnote on the affidavit, the FBI agent noted that he believed Hemphill was referring to the breach of the Idaho state capitol building last August. Based on police reports, local media and Hemphill’s own statements, the agent said, “Pamela Anne Hemphill was involved in the breach of the Idaho Capitol.”

This post has been updated. 

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