Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio charged with conspiracy in US Capitol attack

The replacement indictment unveiled Tuesday includes several other members of the Proud Boys who are already facing charges for actions related to Jan. 6. It also reveals that Tarrio allegedly met Oath Keeper Chief Stewart Rhodes in a Washington, D.C. parking lot, leading to the riot.

Tarrio and Rhodes met for about 30 minutes, according to the indictment, and at least one participant “made reference to the Capitol.” Tarrio then traveled to Baltimore, according to the indictment, and he was not in the district during the Capitol riot.

According to the Justice Department on Tuesday, “Tarrio and his co-defendants…conspired to corruptly obstruct, influence and obstruct an official process, the certification of the Electoral College vote.”

“On January 6, the defendants directed, mobilized and led members of the crowd onto the Capitol grounds and into the Capitol resulting in the dismantling of metal barricades, the destruction of property and assaults on law enforcement” , the Justice Department said in a statement.

Tarrio appeared in court Tuesday afternoon in Florida and will remain in jail until a detention hearing on Friday. The Justice Department has called for him to be held pending trial, saying he was a flight risk and a threat to the community.

Chained up and wearing shorts and a t-shirt, Tarrio said he had just gotten a job printing t-shirts, didn’t own a car and had no savings when the judge questioned him about his finances.

The indictment marks an aggressive new step in a conspiracy case against Proud Boys management that had appeared to stall in recent months in federal court. The new set of charges adding Tarrio comes shortly after prosecutors extended their Jan. 6 case to another far-right group, the Oath Keepers, whose leaders are charged with seditious conspiracy for actions they took place on January 6 and led to the inauguration of Joe Biden.

Developments with the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers have now put key leaders of both groups under arrest.

Tarrio previously served time in DC prison for burning a church’s Black Lives Matter banner in December 2020 and for bringing high-capacity rifle magazines to Washington, DC. This conduct occurred days before the attack on the Capitol.

According to the new court documents, Tarrio did not immediately comply with an order issued after his January 4, 2020 arrest in the blatant case that he left DC upon his January 5 release.

Tarrio is charged in the indictment along with five other Proud Boys leaders.

The other defendants are Ethan Nordean, the “sergeant-at-arms” of the Proud Boys and president of his local chapter; Joseph Biggs, a self-proclaimed organizer of Proud Boys events; Zachary Rehl, who leads the Philadelphia chapter of the Proud Boys; Charles Donohoe, president of a local chapter of the Proud Boys in North Carolina; and Dominic Pezzola, a New York Proud Boy who calls himself “Spaz.”

Rehl, Donohoe, Biggs and Nordean were initially charged with conspiracy and other charges related to the attack on the Capitol in March of last year.

The conspiracy alleged by prosecutors included using social media and other means to raise money to support travel and “equipment purchases” for the trip to DC. The indictment outlined the Proud Boys’ plans to dress “incognito” on January 6, as well as their efforts to allegedly obtain equipment and supplies.

They used encrypted messages before planning the attack, according to the indictment, as well as portable radios to “coordinate” the breach. They are accused of carrying out the plot by leading and mobilizing the crowd in Capitol grounds, dismantling and storming its barricades, destroying property and assaulting law enforcement.

“The purpose of the conspiracy was to stop, delay and obstruct the certification of the Electoral College vote,” the indictment states.

“I don’t play games”

After plans for the rally were publicly announced, Tarrio reportedly discussed in a messaging group with several of his co-defendants and others plans for a “national rally planning committee.”

In late December, according to filings, Tarrio and a handful of his associates had created the new Proud Boys chapter, called the “Ministry of Self-Defense (or “MOSD”); its leadership was divided into three branches – operational, marketing and a second level of eight regional leaders.

He message they reportedly discussed online fundraising for “protective gear and communications” to be used on January 6, and other logistics around the day – including plans to ditch black and yellow usual worn by the Proud Boys.

On December 30, a person not identified in the indictment allegedly sent Tarrio a nine-page document titled “1776 Returns.” he laid out a plan to occupy a few “crucial buildings” in DC, including the House and Senate office buildings around the Capitol, with as many “people as possible” to “show our politicians that we, the people , we are in control”.

The person said revolution was “more important than anything,” according to the indictment, to which Tarrio said, “It’s what every waking moment is about…I don’t play games.”

That same night, Rehl allegedly warned potential members who had been summoned via video call that Jan. 6 would be a “completely different operation,” according to the indictment.

Discussions continued over the following days. Someone identified in the indictment as “Person-3” allegedly posted a voice note in the messaging group saying “the main operating room…should be in front of the Capitol Building. This is where the vote takes place and all objections.”

After Tarrio was arrested in the flag burning case, Donohue initially created a new group chat without Tarrio and informed the group that he was “nulling” the previous message chain, according to the deed. ‘charge.

The day before the attack, Tarrio was reportedly reinstated in the messaging group, and the indictment also highlights public social media posts made by Tarrio on January 6 encouraging the violation.

Just before 1 p.m. that day, according to the indictment, Biggs spoke to an unidentified individual who, a minute later, walked through the barrier that was to be the first to be breached in the attack, according to the indictment. It was also the access point for Biggs and others named in the indictment.

Tarrio, according to the filings, was also trying to communicate directly with Nordean and Biggs as they entered and exited the Capitol. The indictment describes photos and videos the defendants allegedly took to capture their participation in the offense.

The high-ranking face of the Proud Boys group

Tarrio, as president of the Proud Boys, has been his most high-profile face since becoming close with Trump adviser Roger Stone, and he has continued to speak out about the national right-wing group.

In Tarrio’s plea deal with the government in the flag burning case, the deal included an exception for the potential for federal charges related to the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Tarrio has led the far-right organization since 2018.

Prosecutors previously accused the group of reorganizing its leadership for the attack after Tarrio left the city.

Prosecutors said in court they believe the Proud Boys wanted another member of the group already charged with conspiracy, Nordean, to assume “war powers” in Tarrio’s absence. Tarrio’s five co-defendants have all pleaded not guilty to the charges related to Jan. 6.

Outside of criminal court, the Proud Boys and Tarrio have been charged in civil conspiracy complaints – alongside Donald Trump – related to Jan. 6. A federal judge overseeing the civil case in Washington, D.C., recently cleared Democratic members of Congress and the Capitol police to press ahead with their charges, after finding it plausible that Tarrio coordinated with others .

Asked during a presidential debate in 2020 about the Proud Boys, Trump replied that the group should “step back and stand by.” To that, Tarrio tweeted a response: “Get up, sir.”

The flag burning case proceeded in DC Local Court. It was a flag burned at Asbury United Methodist Church, a historically black church, on Dec. 12 after Tarrio and other Proud Boys attended a pro-Trump rally in Washington that preceded violent clashes. When Tarrio was arrested upon returning to DC on Jan. 4, he was found with two high-capacity magazines that are prohibited under DC’s strict gun control laws.

He had already been released from prison in January.

This story has been updated with additional information.

About Carl Schroeder

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