PHOENIX (AP) – A judge Wednesday ordered law enforcement officials to provide organic food to an Arizona man accused of participating in the U.S. Capitol riot while he had facial paint, no shirt and a furry hat carried with horns.
The order came after an attorney for Defendant Jacob Chansley complained that his client had gone without food for the past nine days because organic food is not served in the Washington prison where he is housed.
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Chansley has lost 20 pounds since he was transferred from Arizona to Washington last week, said attorney Albert Watkins. Chansley, who calls himself “QAnon Shaman,” regards eating organic foods as part of his “shamanic belief system and way of life,” the lawyer said.
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Three weeks ago, when he was jailed for the January 6 riot in Arizona, Chansley went out for days without food because the detention center didn’t have organic foods. The US Marshals Service in Arizona said it had “taken an appropriate course of action regarding Jacob Chansley’s nutritional needs,” but declined to say whether it received organic food.
When Chansley asked about organic foods behind bars, he made a religious freedom argument and said he had been following such a diet for eight years while practicing shamanism.
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In an order passed Wednesday night, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth said correctional officers had made religious exemptions for Muslim and Jewish inmates and could not cite a case where they denied such a request on the grounds of alleged lack of religious merit.
Lamberth said that Chansley’s diet was based on his religious beliefs and that his willingness to go without food for more than a week is strong evidence of the sincerity of those beliefs.
Prosecutors said Chansley walked into the Capitol with a U.S. flag on a wooden pole with a spear, ignored an official’s orders to leave, went to the Senate Chamber and wrote a threatening note to then-Vice President Mike Pence.
Chansley told investigators that he “came to the Capitol at the President’s request that all” patriots “come to DC on January 6,” according to court records.
Chansley’s organic food offer isn’t the first unusual request from individuals charged with the riot.
The attorneys of Jenny Cudd, a florist and former mayoral candidate in the oil spatter town of Midland, Texas, asked a judge for permission to go on a four-day trip to Mexico’s Caribbean coast to meet with her colleagues and their spouses. They said the trip was prepaid and planned before the Capitol rising.
Cudd’s investigator had no objection to the trip and prosecutors took no position, defense attorney Farheena Siddiqui wrote in the court file. The judge still has to decide on her request. Her lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday. __ Dallas associate press writer Jake Bleiberg contributed to this story.