Jan. 6 defendant nicknamed “Sedition Panda” convicted of assaulting law enforcement officer

Jan. 6 defendant nicknamed “Sedition Panda” convicted of assaulting law enforcement officer


Jesse James Rumson, the man who dressed in a panda costume since he participated in January 6, 2021, United States Capitol riots, has been convicted of assaulting a law enforcement officer, according to court documents.

Earlier this month, Rumson waived his right to a jury trial and opted for bank test. He was convicted of the eight charges by U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols on Friday for assaulting and resisting Prince George's County Cpl. Scott Ainsworth and for broader disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. Rumson is scheduled to be sentenced in September.

File: Jesse James Runson, indicted Jan. 6, U.S. Capitol, Jan. 6, 2021

Government exposure

After the rioters broke down a door to the Senate wing on January 6, 2021, prosecutors said Rumson jumped over the railings and was “among the first twenty” to enter the building through that entrance. Footage from that day shows Rumson dressed in a panda head and holding a white flag that read, in part, “Don't Tread on Me.” Charging documents said some online communities were calling it “#SeditionPanda.”

While inside the Capitol, prosecutors said Rumson lost his panda head and was apparently handcuffed before being forced out of the Capitol through another door.

But in court documents, prosecutors presented photographic evidence that appeared to show the rioters helping to remove the handcuffs from Rumson's wrists.

File: Jan. 6 Defendant Jesse James Runson “celebrates as handcuffs come off,” according to court documents, Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol.

Government exposure

Once freed, he allegedly ran through the crowd gathered outside the Capitol and toward a line of officers defending the building. He then allegedly grabbed an officer's mask, “which forced the officer's head and neck back and up.”

Prosecutors showed several images of Rumson with and without the panda head. Rumson was arrested in February 2023, more than two years after the storming of the Capitol.

Ainsworth, the officer who was attacked, testified about Rumson's assault last week, according to NBC News.

January 6, 2021, Defendant Jesse James Runson

Department of Justice

The Department of Justice has prosecuted more than 1,200 criminal cases in the wake of the January 6 Capitol storming. Of those, more than 700 had pleaded guilty to various charges, and many more have been convicted.


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