Proud Boys indicted for conspiracy over January 6 U.S. Capitol riots

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Correction — April 12, 2023
The article originally said the indictment was "today" which was true when written, but by the time it was published it had become "yesterday". The text below has been corrected for this mistake.

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

A Washington D.C. grand jury yesterday indicted Henry "Enrique" Tarrio, former chairman of the Proud Boys, and four other members of the far-right U.S. organization on charges of seditious conspiracy regarding the January 6, 2021 insurrection. On that day, a large crowd of Donald Trump supporters stormed into the United States Capitol to prevent the US Congress from certifying the votes from the 2020 United States presidential election. The charges state the riot was not a spontaneous or impromptu act but rather deliberately planned.

Tarrio has faced other charges related to January 6 before, but today's are the most serious: the charges state Tarrio and fellow Proud Boys Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl, and Dominic Pezzola criminally conspired to prevent then-President-elect Joe Biden from taking power by helping to organize the riots. All five have pleaded not guilty.

The specifics of the indictment say the accused met and planned the attack on the Capitol, sometimes communicating via encrypted messages. Prosecutors claim they obtained Baofeng radios that rioters could use to coordinate without others eavesdropping. They also say, on January 6, members of the Proud Boys broke down metal barricades and led the rest of the rioters inside. Prosecutors claim Tarrio helped plan the siege but did not physically enter the Capitol himself. He had been arrested two days earlier for vandalizing a Black Lives Matter banner, for which he served five months in prison.

The crime of "seditious conspiracy" dates to the American Civil War era. If convicted, the accused could face up to 20 years in prison.

"Seditious conspiracy requires the use of force, and [Rehl] never used any force nor thought about using any force," said Carmen Hernandez, lawyer for Zachary Rehl.

Federal authorities have accused more than three dozen members of the Proud Boys of leadership roles in the attack on the Capitol. Some have already pleaded guilty or agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

The Proud Boys are self-proclaimed "western chauvinists" whom the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies as a hate group.