Proud Boys accused of seditious conspiracy in Capitol Riot – NBC Chicago
The former leader of the far-right extremist group Proud Boys and other members were charged Monday with a seditious conspiracy in what federal prosecutors say was a coordinated attack on the US Capitol to prevent Congress from certifying the election victory of the President Joe Biden in 2020.
The latest indictment against Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, the former president of the Proud Boys, and four others connected to the group comes as the US House committee investigating the January 6 riot prepares to begin public hearings this week to present its findings.
The indictment alleges that the Proud Boys conspired to forcibly oppose the legal transfer of presidential power. Tarrio and the others – Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl and Dominic Pezzola – have previously been charged with different conspiracy counts.
They are to be tried in August in federal court in Washington, DC.
The seditious conspiracy charges are among the most serious filed to date, but are not the first of their kind. Eleven members or associates of the anti-government Oath Keepers militia, including its founder and leader Stewart Rhodes, were charged in January with seditious conspiracy in a serious escalation in the largest investigation in Justice Department history.
Three oath keepers have already pleaded guilty to the rarely used Civil War-era charge that calls for up to 20 years in prison. The indictment alleges that the oath keepers and their associates prepared in the weeks leading up to January 6 as if they were going to war, discussing things like weapons and training.
Tarrio, the leader of the group, was not in Washington, DC, when the riot broke out on January 6, 2021, but authorities say he helped spark the violence that day.
Police arrested Tarrio in Washington two days before the riot and accused him of vandalizing a Black Lives Matter banner at a historic black church during a protest in December 2020. Tarrio was released from jail on January 14 after serving his five-month sentence for it. Case.
A lawyer for Tarrio said his client “is going to have his day in court.”
“And we intend to represent him vigorously throughout this process,” said Nayib Hassan.
Defense attorney Carmen Hernendez, who represents Rehl, said her client was “as innocent of these charges as those already pending against him.”
“Seditious conspiracy requires the use of force, and he never used force or thought of using force,” Hernandez said.
More than three dozen people charged in the Capitol siege have been identified by federal authorities as leaders, members or associates of the Proud Boys, whose members describe it as a politically incorrect men’s club for “Western chauvinists “.
They brawled with anti-fascist activists at rallies and demonstrations. Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes, who founded the Proud Boys in 2016, has sued the Southern Poverty Law Center for calling it a hate group.
The indictment alleges that the Proud Boys held meetings and communicated via encrypted messages to plan the attack in the days leading up to January 6. On the day of the riot, authorities said the Proud Boys dismantled the metal barricades set up to protect the Capitol and mobilized, directed and led members of the crowd into the building.
Prosecutors said the Proud Boys arranged for members to communicate using specific frequencies on Baofeng radios. Devices made in China can be programmed to operate on hundreds of frequencies, making it difficult for outsiders to eavesdrop.
Shortly before the riot, authorities said Tarrio had posted on social media that the group planned to show up in ‘record numbers’ on January 6, but would be ‘incognito’ instead of donning their colors of traditional clothes in black and yellow.
Around the same time, an anonymous person sent Tarrio a document outlining plans to occupy a few “crucial buildings” in Washington on Jan. 6, including House and Senate office buildings around the Capitol, according to the report. ‘indictment. The nine-page document was titled “1776 Returns” and called for having “as many people as possible” to “show our politicians that we the people are in charge”, according to the indictment.
Nordean, of Auburn, Washington, was president of the Proud Boys chapter and a member of the group’s national “Council of Elders.” Biggs, of Ormond Beach, Florida, is a self-proclaimed Proud Boys organizer. Rehl was president of the Proud Boys chapter in Philadelphia. Pezzola is a member of Proud Boy from Rochester, New York.
A New York man pleaded guilty in December to storming the US Capitol with other members of the Proud Boys. Matthew Greene was the first member of the Proud Boys to publicly plead guilty to conspiring with other members to prevent Congress from certifying the Electoral College vote. Greene agreed to cooperate with authorities investigating the attack.
Another Proud Boy, Charles Donohoe, of Kernersville, North Carolina, pleaded guilty in April to conspiracy and assault charges and also agreed to cooperate in Justice Department cases against other members of the extremist group.
In December, a federal judge refused to dismiss an earlier indictment charging alleged Proud Boys leaders with conspiring to block certification of Biden’s Electoral College victory. U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly rejected defense attorneys’ arguments that the men were charged with conduct protected by the First Amendment’s right to free speech.