A Broadway actor and Michael Jackson impersonator starring as Judas in a traveling performance of “Jesus Christ Superstar” joined the Oath Keepers who breached the Capitol on Jan. 6, prosecutors alleged Tuesday.
James Beeks, 49, who goes by the stage name James T. Justis, was still performing as of this month before his arrest Tuesday. Federal investigators “observed” two of his November shows in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Prosecutors say he joined a dozen Oath Keepers in a so-called stack formation to enter the Capitol just as the riot was escalating.
Beeks' involvement is an odd twist in an sprawling case against the anti-government extremist group. About 20 defendants are already facing charges in the case, one of the most significant brought by prosecutors against the 700-plus defendants who breached the Capitol.
Beeks’ acting resume lists roles in Broadway versions of “Kinky Boots,” “Aida” and “Ragtime.”
Investigators couldn’t initially identify Beeks. He was dressed differently than his Oath Keeper counterparts and covered his face completely with a gaiter during the attack. But with the help of another defendant in the case, described only as “Defendant 4,” and an image of Beeks wearing a jacket emblazoned with the word “Bad,” investigators identified him as the likeliest suspect. Cell phone data suggests that Beeks, a Florida resident, was near the Capitol during the siege.
“Law enforcement was further able to corroborate Beeks’s possession of the black jacket that appears consistent with the one he was seen wearing on January 6, 2021,” investigators added. “The jacket appears to be from Michael Jackson’s BAD world tour, which started in 1987.”
“Beeks has an additional connection to Michael Jackson: According to his LinkedIn profile and YouTube page, Beeks regularly performs as a Michael Jackson impersonator,” the FBI noted.
Investigators also confirmed Beeks’ identity thanks to the position of his right ear in a photograph of the Oath Keepers at the Capitol.
“While law enforcement was not able to locate a photograph or video of Beeks at the Capitol with his full face visible (because of his helmet and gaiter), law enforcement was able to make a comparison based on his visible ear,” wrote the FBI agent handling the case, whose name is redacted. “Specifically, a photograph of Beeks’s right ear while at the Capitol appears similar to Beeks’s right ear as seen on a video of Beeks on Beeks’s YouTube page.”
It’s unclear if Beeks will be connected to the broader conspiracy case or charged separately. The agent handling his case said Beeks could face charges of obstruction and trespassing in a restricted building.
According to “Defendant 4,” Beeks approached the group of Oath Keepers on Jan. 6 and indicated he had just joined and followed the social media posts of one of the group’s Florida leaders, Kelly Meggs. He carried a shield with him that he told associates was bulletproof.
The FBI confirmed that Beeks paid dues to the Oath Keepers on Dec. 21, 2020. Using banking records and other “legal process,” investigators also showed that Beeks made a cash withdrawal in Northern Virginia on Jan. 5. He also paid for hotels in Georgia on Jan. 5 and North Carolina on Jan. 7, “consistent with round-trip travel from Orlando, Florida, to Washington, D.C.,” authorities said. And car rental records obtained from Avis show he rented a vehicle in Florida and put nearly 2,500 miles on it, more than enough to make the round-trip drive from Florida.
The FBI said Beeks changed his phone number the day after an initial indictment against members of the Oath Keepers in February. They observed Beeks at the airport on Nov. 15 traveling from Los Angeles to Orlando.
“Given that the next Jesus Christ Superstar production begins on November 23, 2021, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin,” the agent wrote, “law enforcement assesses that Beeks will likely fly from Orlando to Milwaukee within the next several days.”
In an October interview with Equality365, Beeks was asked whether current civil unrest added any nuances to the way he played the role of Judas.
“I don’t look at it as Judas being a bad guy. I think he is a hero,” Beeks replied. “I am honored to be the archetype of Judas and to give him a voice. Myself, being a person of color, I cherish that. I think that we’ve been told we have to question society. I want people to look at Judas in a different light and from different perspectives. He wasn’t a bad guy, and was only doing what he had to do.”
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( Information from politico.com was used in this report. To Read More, click here )