Leader of extremist group Proud Boys arrested for January 6 attack on US Capitol

A leader of the far-right extremist group Proud Boys was arrested on Tuesday on conspiracy charges for his alleged role in the coordinated attack on the US Capitol to prevent Congress from certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.

Henry “Enrique” Tarrio was not there when the riot broke out on January 6, 2021. Police had arrested Tarrio in Washington two days before the riot and charged him with vandalizing a Black Lives Matter banner in a historic black church during a protest in December 2020. The day before the attack on the Capitol, a judge ordered Tarrio to stay out of Washington.

But Tarrio did not leave town as he should have, according to the indictment. Instead, he met Oath Keepers founder and leader Elmer “Stewart” Rhodes and others in an underground parking lot for about 30 minutes.

“During this encounter, a participant made reference to the Capitol,” the indictment states.

Tarrio made his first court appearance via video link to a Miami courtroom on Tuesday. His detention hearing was scheduled for Friday.

The arrest came as federal prosecutors secured a conviction on all counts in the first trial for a rioter since the attack.

Occupation plan for “crucial buildings” in Washington

The indictment is further evidence of the extent to which the US Department of Justice will prosecute leaders of extremist groups whose members are believed to have planned the attack on the Capitol, even if they don’t were not themselves present.

The latest conspiracy charge focuses on organized groups who conspired ahead of time – as federal prosecutors single them out from the hundreds of other supporters of then-President Donald Trump who were at the scene that day and were charged.

The new charges related to the riots are among the most serious filed to date, but they are not the first of their kind. Eleven members or associates of the anti-government Oath Keepers militia, including Rhodes, have been charged with seditious conspiracy in the attack on the Capitol.

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Tarrio, who has since resigned as president of the Proud Boys, did not immediately respond to a text message seeking comment on his arrest and indictment. He served five months for the unrelated case.

On December 30, 2020, an anonymous person sent Tarrio a document outlining plans to occupy a few “crucial buildings” in Washington on January 6, including House and Senate office buildings around the Capitol, according to the act. of accusation. 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.

“Revolution is more important than anything,” the person said.

“That’s what every waking moment is about…I don’t play games,” Tarrio replied, according to the indictment.

Significant presence of the Proud Boys on January 6

Members of the Proud Boys describe the group as a politically incorrect men’s club for “western chauvinists”. Its members have frequently 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.

On the morning of January 6, members of the group gathered at the Washington Monument and marched to the Capitol before President Donald Trump finished speaking to thousands of supporters near the White House.

An explosion caused by police munitions is seen as a crowd of people descend on the US Capitol building in Washington, DC, January 6, 2021. (Lea Millis/Reuters)

Just before Congress convened a joint session to certify the results of the presidential election, a group of Proud Boys followed a crowd of people who broke through barriers at a pedestrian entrance to Capitol Park, according to an act of charge. Several Proud Boys also entered the Capitol building after mobs smashed windows and forced open doors.

Prosecutors said the Proud Boys arranged for members to communicate using specific frequencies on Baofeng radios, Chinese-made devices that can be programmed for use on hundreds of frequencies, making it difficult to listening to strangers.

More than three dozen of the more than 750 people charged in the Capitol siege have been identified by federal authorities as leaders, members or associates of the Proud Boys.

Conviction at the 1st trial for the Capitol riot

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, a Texas man was found guilty of storming the US Capitol with a holstered handgun, a decisive victory for federal prosecutors in the first trial among hundreds of cases. stemming from last year’s riot.

A jury also found Guy Wesley Reffitt guilty of obstructing the joint session of Congress to certify the Electoral College vote on Jan. 6, 2021, interfering with police officers guarding the Capitol, and threatening his two teenage sons. they reported it to law enforcement. after the attack.

The jurors deliberated for approximately three hours and found him guilty on all counts.

LISTEN | A brief history of the Proud Boys:

front burner27:33The Proud Boys: A Brief History

In the wake of last week’s attack on the US Capitol, the Proud Boys – a group founded by Canadian Gavin McInnes – have come under intense pressure. The FBI arrests some of its members. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has called for them to be designated as a terrorist group, and the federal government is considering it. Today, how the Proud Boys started and where they ended up, with Jared Holt – a visiting scholar at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab who studies domestic extremism 27:33

The verdict could be an indicator for many other Capitol riot cases. This could give Justice Department prosecutors more leverage in plea negotiations and discourage other defendants from betting on their own trials.

Reffitt faced a total of five counts: obstruction of official process, unlawful presence on Capitol grounds while armed with a firearm, transporting firearms during a civil disturbance , interference with law enforcement during civil unrest, and obstruction of justice.

During closing arguments in the trial on Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Risa Berkower told jurors that Reffitt traveled to Washington, D.C., with the intention of preventing Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s election victory. Reffitt proudly “lit the fire” that allowed other members of a crowd to overwhelm Capitol police officers near the Senate doors, the prosecutor said.

Reffitt was not charged with entering the Capitol building. Defense attorney William Welch said there was no evidence his client damaged property, used force or physically injured anyone.

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Jurors saw video that captured the confrontation between a few Capitol police officers and a crowd of people, including Reffitt, who approached them from the west side of the Capitol.

Reffitt was armed with a Smith & Wesson pistol in a waist holster, wearing zippered handcuffs and wearing a body armor and helmet fitted with a video camera when he walked up to police, according to prosecutors. He retreated after an officer sprayed him with pepper spray in the face, but he waved at other rioters who eventually entered the building, prosecutors said.

Before the crowd moved forward, Reffitt used a megaphone to shout for the police to move aside and to urge the crowd to move forward and past the officers. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Nestler said Reffitt played a prominent role that day.

He will be sentenced on June 8. He could be sentenced to 20 years in prison on the charge alone, but he is likely to spend much less time behind bars. Other rioters pleaded guilty, and the longest sentence to date was five years and three months given to Robert Palmer, a Florida man who pleaded guilty to attacking police officers at the Capitol.

The riot resulted in the death of five people, including a policeman. More than 100 officers were injured. Rioters caused more than $1 million in damage to the Capitol.

More than 750 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the riot. More than 220 of them have pleaded guilty, mostly to misdemeanors, and more than 110 of them have been sentenced. About 90 more have trial dates.

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