Broadway Actor Arrested in Connection to Jan. 6 Capitol Riot, Suspended from Jesus Christ Superstar

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james d. beeks
james d. beeks

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A Broadway actor was arrested Tuesday in connection to the deadly Jan. 6 events in Washington, D.C., which saw a large group of Donald Trump supporters breach the U.S. Capitol building.

James Beeks, 49, is charged with obstruction of Congress, which is a felony, and a misdemeanor charge of unlawfully entering a restricted building or grounds, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday.

Beeks plays Judas in the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, which is on tour right now. Investigators "observed" him in early November at performances in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and the show performed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Tuesday, next heading out of the U.S. to Toronto. They arrested Beeks in Milwaukee on Tuesday afternoon.

Jesus Christ Superstar producers said Wednesday, according to Deadline and Variety, that Beeks is suspended from the tour "pending the outcome of the hearing," adding that the "production is giving its full cooperation to the authorities while the investigation is ongoing."

Beeks, who has done performances as a Michael Jackson impersonator, was partially able to be identified by authorities because of the jacket he wore that day: merchandise from Jackson's 1980s Bad era. He appeared to wear the same tour jacket in photos on his social media that investigators found.

Law enforcement used other evidence to link Beeks to being there on Jan. 6, including debit card purchases made in that area, phone records, car rentals and more, per an official complaint. They also matched his ear to images from the scene, since they were "not able to locate a photograph or video of Beeks at the Capitol with his full face visible."

Authorities alleged that Beeks paid dues to the Oath Keepers — an extremist group that was present at the Capitol riot — on Dec. 21, 2020, just two weeks before Jan. 6.

It was not immediately clear if Beeks has an attorney to reach for comment. He made an initial court appearance in the Eastern District of Wisconsin and was released pending further court proceedings, the DOJ said.

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In an interview with Equality365 published in October to promote a Jesus Christ Superstar tour stop, Beeks, who uses the stage name James T. Justis, was asked about how "current social unrest" affects his portrayal of Judas in the musical.

"That's a good question. I don't look at it as Judas being a bad guy. I think he is a hero. 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. However that is translated into today's society, I hope it would be looked on as a good thing."

The DOJ reports that over 675 people across nearly all 50 states have been arrested in connection to Jan. 6. More than 210 of those people were charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement.

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