JUST IN: Proud Boys Leader and Others Found GUILTY of Sedition of Jan 6 Plot
Enrique Tarrio, the former leader of the Proud Boys, has been found guilty of seditious conspiracy by a Washington, D.C. jury.
The alleged far-right extremist group according to prosecutors orchestrated a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol in a desperate attempt to keep Donald Trump in power after he lost the 2020 presidential election to Democrat Joe Biden. The trial lasted over three months and was one of the most serious cases brought in connection with the insurrection that occurred on January 6, 2021.
This verdict marks a significant milestone for the Justice Department, which has now secured seditious conspiracy convictions against the leaders of two major extremist groups that prosecutors say were intent on keeping Biden out of the White House at all costs. The charge carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years.
Tarrio was a top target of what has become the largest Justice Department investigation in American history. He led the neo-fascist group known for street fights with left-wing activists of BLM and Antifa as they clashed all over America, and famously received praise from Trump when the former president told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” during his first debate with Biden.
Although Tarrio was not present in Washington on Jan. 6 because he had been arrested two days earlier in a separate case and ordered out of the capital city, prosecutors said he organized and directed the attack by Proud Boys who stormed the Capitol that day. Prosecutors told jurors that the group viewed itself as “Trump’s army” and was prepared for “all-out war” to stop Biden from becoming president.
The backbone of the government’s case was hundreds of messages exchanged by Proud Boys in the days leading up to Jan. 6 that show the far-right extremist group peddling Trump’s false claims of a stolen election and trading fears over what would happen when Biden took office.
As Proud Boys swarmed the Capitol, Tarrio cheered them on from afar, writing on social media: “Do what must be done.” In a Proud Boys encrypted group chat later that day someone asked what they should do next. Tarrio responded: “Do it again.”
Defense lawyers denied there was any plot to attack the Capitol or stop Congress’ certification of Biden’s win. A lawyer for Tarrio sought to push the blame onto Trump, arguing the former president incited the pro-Trump mob’s attack when he urged the crowd near the White House to “fight like hell.”
Tarrio was charged and tried with four other Proud Boys: Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl, and Dominic Pezzola. Nordean, of Auburn, Washington, was a Proud Boys chapter leader. Rehl led a group chapter in Philadelphia. Biggs, of Ormond Beach, Florida, was a self-described Proud Boys organizer. Pezzola was a group member from Rochester, New York.
The Justice Department hadn’t tried a seditious conspiracy case in a decade before a jury convicted another extremist group leader, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, of the Civil War-era charge last year. Over the course of two Oath Keepers trials, Rhodes and five other members were convicted of seditious conspiracy for what prosecutors said was a separate plot to forcibly halt the transfer of presidential power from Trump to Biden. Three defendants were acquitted of the sedition charge but convicted of obstructing Congress’ certification of Biden’s electoral victory.
The Justice Department has yet to disclose how much prison time it will seek when the Oath Keepers are sentenced next month. This verdict serves as a stark reminder that extremism and violence have no place in American democracy and that those who seek to overthrow the government will be held accountable for their actions.
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