A Minnesota family is facing an uncertain future as their trial dates move closer in connection to the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol breach.
On the latest episode of Liz Collin Reports, Rosemarie Westbury of Lindstrom, Minn., spoke out about the pre-dawn raids that rattled her family’s quiet community as her husband and three sons prepare for their Feb. 12 trial dates.
The Westbury-James family makes up a third of Minnesota’s Jan. 6 defendants. Jonah Westbury, Issac Westbury, Aaron James and Robert Westbury are all charged and face prison time.
“I think this is something that people really need to understand … People want to sweep it under the rug, but it’s still going on,” Westbury said.
How the day unfolded
Westbury said she and her family stayed for former President Donald Trump’s entire speech from the Ellipse on Jan. 6, describing the massive crowds as unlike anything she had ever seen.
“So, when we got to the Capitol, there were no barriers. There was nothing set up that would have made us think that we could not be there. When we got there, my husband and my sons went ahead and my son Jonah was recording and just the whole day because it was very exciting, of course. We’d never been to Washington, D.C. So he recorded and put it on his Snapchat. When he did go into the Capitol, the doors were open and he looked like a tourist. And it was actually one of his classmates, high-school classmates, that called the FBI and said, ‘Oh, I see somebody that was in the Capitol, and he was a former classmate of mine.’ And so that’s how this all got started,” she said.
Westbury said two of her sons helped her husband to a bench inside the Capitol after he was pepper-sprayed. She said Issac and Aaron then went to help Rosanne Boyland, a Trump supporter who died that day.
“We did not know who it was at first … Aaron said to my son, Isaac, ‘We have to go help,’ because they were doing CPR, and they could see that. They went to the front of the tunnel, the infamous tunnel, and they tried to get to Rosanne to help, but they were unable to. The police were spraying this very toxic yellow gas. From what I’m told, it sucks the oxygen out of the air. So, they realized they couldn’t get to Roseanne. So Aaron told Isaac, ‘Let’s pick up shields.’ They were holding shields on the ground so she wouldn’t get sprayed,” Westbury said.
“They are the ones who have felony charges for that,” she added. Both Isaac and Aaron are facing up to 20 years in prison. Her husband Bob and son Jonah face up to two years in prison.
Jonah Westbury was 25 years old in 2021. He’s fighting a slew of charges, including entering and remaining in a restricted building and grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building and grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a capitol building and grounds, and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a capitol building.
Rosemarie’s husband faces similar charges to Jonah for entering the U.S. Capitol.
Isaac Westbury was 18 years old on Jan. 6. He’s been charged with civil disorder, assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers using a dangerous weapon, entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon, engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly conduct in a capitol building, an act of physical violence in the Capitol grounds or buildings, and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a capitol building.
Aaron James is a U.S. Navy veteran who served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He faces the same charges as Isaac.
Rosemarie Westbury made the trip with her family in January 2021.
“The reason that I went, I felt like I had to go. It was a compulsion within me. Was it for President Trump? I suppose it was, you know, because 2020, and we all know, was a debacle. It really was. But more than that, I felt that God was calling us to go there. And it was something that I could not ignore,” she said.
Raids on Lindstrom home
Two no-knock raids were carried out by the FBI at the family’s Lindstrom home. The first happened in April 2021.
“They come in combat style. They have AR-15s. Everybody has to get out. They drag them to the front of the house. And they put Jonah in shackles and leg irons and ankle irons. They dragged him out and they put him in the back of a vehicle, brought him down for processing. He was in a holding cell for hours and hours and hours with leg irons on. He was inside of a cage basically with leg irons,” she said.
But the raid in October 2021 was “far worse,” she said.
“They came with 50 to 60 agents. They had a SWAT team. They had drones that went through my chicken coop and swamp and into the house. They’re looking through the house. I don’t know what they were looking for, but they dragged Aaron and Bob and Isaac down to be processed. They didn’t allow them to get shoes on. They didn’t allow them to get really anything. They were stocking feet, barefoot, no phones, nothing. And brought them down. And they were eventually released as well, the same day under conditions, you know, pretrial release,” Westbury said.
Westbury said the raids traumatized her neighbors, who knew her as the “Christmas cookie lady.”
“They call me the Christmas cookie lady because I make Christmas cookies for everybody every year. And they’re wondering what’s going on at Christmas cookie lady’s house,” she said.
“There was no reason for it. They took all of our firearms, my electronics, and I haven’t been charged as of yet, but everything in my house, phone, cellphones, old cellphones, computers, everything, they took everything. They had us get rid of all of our firearms, crossbows. They even had us get rid of replica guns, which were cap guns,” Westbury explained.
“They did nothing wrong. I mean, honestly, my family has done nothing wrong. If they take a plea deal, what are they pleading to? Are they agreeing that they’re guilty of what? Of whatever the government says that they’re guilty of? So they are standing up for what’s right, what’s good, what’s holy and what’s true,” she added.
After rioting in Minneapolis, the U.S. Attorney’s Office charged 17 people with federal riot and arson. Just four people who were responsible for destroying the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct building faced charges. The longest sentence has been four years in those cases.
“We have people who were nonviolent at the Capitol, and they’re being charged and put in prison for 20 years, 18 years. It’s a two-tiered justice system. Well, it’s not justice. It’s not justice at all. And it makes me think, where has our country gone?” Westbury asked.
A fundraiser has been launched to help the family with their legal expenses.