“Tarrio’s sentence closes a significant chapter in the investigation of the Jan. 6 attack. His 22-year sentence is likely to remain the lengthiest for anyone charged in connection with the attack itself — a mark that exceeds the 18-year sentences handed down to Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and Tarrio’s ally Ethan Nordean.
Prosecutors portrayed Tarrio as a uniquely influential figure who singularly organized a group of hardened Proud Boys members and aimed them at the Capitol on Jan. 6. They said his sentence had to serve as a deterrent to anyone who might target America’s system of government in the future.
“He was on a tier of his own,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Conor Mulroe. “This was a calculated act of terrorism.””
“Tarrio also apologized to police officers, lawmakers and D.C. residents for the carnage of Jan. 6.
“I had the choice multiple times to calm things out and I didn’t. I persisted when I should have calmed,” he said.”
““That day broke our tradition of peacefully transferring power,” said U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly as he delivered Biggs’ sentence. “The mob brought an entire branch of government to heel.””
“Kelly, an appointee of Donald Trump, agreed with prosecutors that the crimes committed by Biggs and Rehl amounted to an act of terrorism aimed at influencing the government. In Jan. 6 cases, that distinction had until Thursday been applied only to members of the Oath Keepers who were similarly convicted of seditious conspiracy or obstruction.
Kelly spoke at length about his decision to apply the terrorism label and how the Jan. 6 attack compared to other, more stereotypical acts of terrorism that involve mass casualties or bombings.
“While blowing up a building in some city somewhere is a very bad act, the nature of the constitutional moment we were in that day is something that is so sensitive that it deserves a significant sentence,” Kelly said.
The judge, however, did not use the terrorism designation to sharply increase his sentences for Biggs and Rehl. Doing so, he said, would result in an overly harsh punishment because the terrorism enhancement is primarily geared to actions with an “intent to kill” — which he did not attribute to Biggs or Rehl.
The sentences are an important marker in the fraught aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack. Prosecutors, who had asked for a 33-year sentence for Biggs and 30 years for Rehl, said they and their co-conspirators were the driving force behind the violence that unfolded that day, facilitating breaches at multiple police lines and helping the crowd advance into the building itself. A jury convicted the five Proud Boys of multiple conspiracies in June, after a four-month trial that recounted their actions in painstaking detail.
Prosecutors urged Kelly to severely punish Biggs and Rehl as a way to deter others who might consider similar actions in the future aimed at disrupting the government.”
“Prosecutors say the group amassed a force of 200 hand-selected Proud Boys and marched them to the Capitol, where many of them skirmished with police or removed barriers intended to keep the crowd at bay. Nordean and Biggs were convicted of dismantling a black metal fence that was one of police’s last obstacles before the crowd reached the building.”
“When Trump told supporters on Dec. 19, 2020, to amass in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, Tarrio and the Proud Boys leaders quickly responded and began assembling a new chapter that they described as a group of more disciplined and obedient men who would follow their orders. That group, which they dubbed the “Ministry of Self-Defense,” became the core of the group that descended on the Capitol on Jan. 6.”
“During Rehl’s sentencing, Pattis more squarely put the blame for the riot on Trump, saying many in the crowd were simply following his instructions and had no reason to doubt their commander in chief. Pattis mused that it seemed unfair for Rehl to be charged with seditious conspiracy while Trump was not.”
“A top lieutenant of the Proud Boys’ chairman, Enrique Tarrio, described on Wednesday a growing desperation among the group’s leaders as Jan. 6, 2021, approached and then-President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results sputtered.
That’s when the group’s thoughts turned to “all-out revolution,” according to Jeremy Bertino, the Justice Department’s star witness in the seditious conspiracy trial of Tarrio and four other Proud Boys leaders, who are charged with orchestrating a violent attempt to derail the transfer of power from Trump to Joe Biden.
Bertino, who pleaded guilty to his own seditious conspiracy charge last year, gave jurors an insider’s view of the Proud Boys’ leadership as Jan. 6 approached and the group became increasingly convinced that the Biden presidency posed an existential threat. Those views, prodded along at times by Trump’s own efforts to subvert his defeat, intensified after Tarrio was arrested on Jan. 4, 2021, upon arriving in Washington.
Now, the group’s leaders — Tarrio and Joe Biggs of Florida, Ethan Nordean of Seattle, Zachary Rehl of Philadelphia and Dominic Pezzola of New York — are facing the gravest charges to emerge from the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.”
““I thought I was watching history,” Bertino recalled. “I thought it was historical. I thought it was a revolution starting.”
When one member of the group informed others that then-Vice President Mike Pence had resisted Trump’s entreaties to overturn the election on his own, Bertino assured them: “Don’t worry, boys. America’s taking care of it right now.”
Bertino’s jubilance turned into fury after Trump told rioters to go home and law enforcement cleared the Capitol.
“We failed,” he told other Proud Boys in various Telegram chats, after Congress had returned to continue certifying Biden’s victory. He lamented that the rioters caused mayhem simply to “take selfies in Pelosi’s office.”
That sentiment continued into Jan. 7.”
“Bertino also clarified an odd text to Tarrio that read “They need to get peloton.” It was an autocorrect for Pelosi, Bertino said.
“She was the target, as far as the one who had been pushing the information [about the election],” Bertino recalled thinking. “She was the talking head of the opposition. And they needed to remove her from power.””
“The quick thinking of Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman may have prevented a shootout at the doors of the Senate chamber on Jan. 6, 2021, a top Capitol Police official said Friday.
Inspector Thomas Loyd, testifying in the trial of five members of the Proud Boys leadership charged with seditious conspiracy, recalled the outnumbered Goodman’s effort to lure the first wave of rioters inside the Capitol to a position away from the doors of the Senate and toward a waiting line of Capitol Police officers.
In a famous video of the incident, Goodman lures the group of rioters — which included one of the Proud Boys defendants, Dominic Pezzola — up a staircase and away from the unguarded Senate doors. For a moment, one of the rioters, Douglas Jensen, considered veering away from Goodman and toward those doors. But he ultimately followed Goodman and ran into the line of police reinforcements.
“If those doors had been breached,” Loyd told jurors, “most likely there would’ve been gunfire at that point.””
“Canada recently designated the Proud Boys, a far-right hate group, as a terrorist organization, a move that has put pressure on President Joe Biden’s administration to take similar punitive action against the group and others who participated in January 6 attack on the US Capitol.
The Congressional Research Service has asserted that the Capitol insurrection was an act of domestic terrorism, as defined by federal regulations and law. The FBI has identified the criminal activity by the Proud Boys as a domestic terrorism threat.
But while the federal government maintains a list of foreign terrorist organizations, it does not have a mechanism to formally designate domestic terrorist organizations. National security experts argue that creating one would not only invite legal challenges, but would do little to improve law enforcement’s response to the nascent threat of domestic terrorism.
Creating such a list would raise legitimate First Amendment concerns because it could potentially be used to target political dissidents on both the left and the right. Experts also say it’s ill-suited to address the kind of domestic terrorist attacks and plots that the US is facing, which according to the Department of Homeland Security, primarily come from right-wing extremists acting as individuals, rather than as organized groups.
The best way forward, they say, is for the federal government to better employ existing tools to combat domestic terrorism — a threat that was not prioritized by former President Donald Trump, who repeatedly refused to denounce white nationalists and told those who stormed the Capitol, “We love you.”
“Violent white supremacists are not a new problem,” Faiza Patel, the director of liberty and national security at the Brennan Center for Justice, said. “Law enforcement has dealt with them before and can do so again. The FBI’s robust response to the attack on the Capitol shows that these groups can be investigated and prosecuted under existing law, undercutting any argument for new tools.””
“The precise composition of the mob that forced its way into the Capitol on Wednesday, disrupting sessions of both houses of Congress and leaving a police officer and four others dead, remains unknown. But a review by a ProPublica-FRONTLINE team that has been tracking far-right movements for the past three years shows that the crowd included members of the Proud Boys and other groups with violent ideologies. Videos reveal the presence of several noted hardcore nativists and white nationalists who participated in the 2017 white power rally in Charlottesville, Virginia”
“in December, as the group’s leaders planned to flood Washington to oppose the certification of the Electoral College vote this week for President-elect Joe Biden, they decided to do something different.
“The ProudBoys will turn out in record numbers on Jan 6th but this time with a twist…,” Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, the group’s president, wrote in a late-December post on Parler, a social media platform that has become popular with right-wing activists and conservatives. “We will not be wearing our traditional Black and Yellow. We will be incognito and we will spread across downtown DC in smaller teams. And who knows….we might dress in all BLACK for the occasion.””
“A journalist working with ProPublica and FRONTLINE encountered members of the Proud Boys in dark clothes walking through Washington on the night before the attack. The four men posed for a photo and confirmed their membership in the group. Few participants involved in the Capitol siege were seen wearing Proud Boys colors or logos.”
“since the incident, Proud Boys social media channels have flaunted their direct role in the attack and looting of the Capitol.
One prominent Proud Boys account encouraged rioters as the chaos was unfolding: “Hold your ground!!!… DO NOT GO HOME. WE ARE ON THE CUSP OF SAVING THE CONSTITUTION.””
“eight men, whose movements were captured on video, were identified by ProPublica and FRONTLINE as members of the Oath Keepers, a long-standing militia group that has pledged to ignite a civil war on behalf of Trump. Members of the group joined the protesters and insurrectionists flooding into the Capitol. Footage from later in the day shows Oath Keepers dragging a wounded comrade out of the building.”
“Several other of the participants ProPublica and FRONTLINE identified from video have direct links to the white nationalist movement, which has seen a resurgence of activity during the Trump era.
One was Nick Fuentes, an internet personality who streams a daily talk show on DLive, an alternative social media platform. Fuentes, who marched in Charlottesville during the 2017 white power rally there, speaks frequently in anti-Semitic terms and pontificates on the need to protect America’s white heritage from the ongoing shift in the nation’s demographics. He has publicly denied believing in white nationalism but has said that he considers himself a “white majoritarian.””
“Another figure inside the Capitol with ties to white nationalists was Tim Gionet, a livestreamer who uses the handle Baked Alaska and who participated in the Charlottesville rally, which left one woman dead. Gionet was photographed within the Capitol and apparently used DLive to stream from within the building as events unfolded.”
“Other extremist figures present either at the rally or within the Capitol included Vincent James Foxx, an online propagandist for the Rise Above Movement, a now-defunct Southern California white supremacist group.
Also on scene: Gabe Brown, a New Englander who helped create Anticom, a now-defunct organization devoted to physically combating leftists. In 2017, Anticom members posted a vast trove of bomb-making manuals to a private online chatroom.”
“Photos from within the Capitol showed one unidentified man carrying a Confederate battle flag and another wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with a skull and the words “Camp Auschwitz,” a reference to the infamous Nazi death camp.”
“After the siege, a Boogaloo Bois group called the Last Sons of Liberty, which includes militants from Virginia, posted a video to Parler purporting to document their role in the incident — a clip that shows members inside the Capitol. A loose-knit confederation of anti-government militants, the Boogaloo Bois have been tied to a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and to the murder of two law enforcement officers in California. ProPublica and FRONTLINE have been unable to independently confirm their involvement.”
“The Proud Boys also celebrated on social media. On Parler, one Proud Boys leader posted a photo of members of Congress cowering in fear and captioned it with a menacing statement: “Today you found out. The power of the people will not be denied.””