The mother of Ashli Babbitt, Micki Witthoeft, was arrested Tuesday evening after striking a counter-protester at a right-wing event outside of the Washington, D.C. jail where many of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot defendants are being held.
Witthoeft, 58, was spotted by The Daily Beast being taken into custody just after 6:45 p.m. She was surrounded by officers and handcuffed before being walked into a waiting police van.
The arrest comes just one day after Witthoeft’s alleged violent outburst was caught on film and later reported to police. A senior law enforcement official confirmed to The Daily Beast that the arrest was related to the earlier assault.
“58-year-old Michelle Witthoeft, of Spring Valley, CA, was arrested and charged with Simple Assault and Destruction of Property,” Hugh Carew, a D.C. Metropolitan Police Department Public Information Office, told The Daily Beast after publication.
In the video, she can be seen racing after a counter-protester holding a megaphone and a camera. It’s unclear what precedes the incident, but the woman’s megaphone is blaring a loud siren sound, likely annoying the crowd of right-wing protesters gathered in support of the imprisoned Jan. 6 defendants.
As the anti-fascist protester raises a middle finger, Witthoeft raises her arm and strikes the woman before shoving her off the sidewalk. Witthoeft then continues following the woman as she runs away, grabbing her megaphone and smashing it before running off.
Ashli Babbitt's mother struck an anti-fascist organizer last night at a rally outside of the DC jail. pic.twitter.com/1hSLgQzzsm
— Zachary Petrizzo (@ZTPetrizzo) May 30, 2023
Following her arrest, a group of right-wing protesters gathered around the police vehicle to shout words of support, coalescing in chants of “Ashli Babbitt! Ashli Babbit!”
“Arrested for defending Ashli Babbit's honor,” another right-wing protester yelled.
Hours later, on Tuesday evening, Witthoeft was released and returned to the right-wing protest area outside of the jail, called “freedom corner.”
“I did klonk my head getting in the paddy wagon,” she told a small crowd of supporters. “The MPD department on M St. has a serious rat problem.”
“It really wasn't that bad,” she said of the booking process. As for the charges she hit a left-wing counter-protester, Witthoeft said, “there's really no denying it.”
Tuesday’s arrest is not Witthoeft’s first brush with the law in recent years. She was taken into custody for blocking traffic at a Jan. 6 remembrance event earlier this year, with police also citing the group’s lack of permits to hold the event on Capitol grounds.
Prosecutors later declined to file charges in the case.
Witthoeft’s daughter, a former senior airman with the U.S. Air Force, was killed by a Capitol police officer on Jan. 6 as she attempted to enter the Speaker’s lobby just outside the U.S. House of Representatives.
Babbitt’s death has since become a right-wing cause célèbre.