Proud Boys leader indicted on conspiracy charge over Jan. 6
A federal grand jury on Tuesday indicted the leader of the right-wing Proud Boys on a conspiracy charge stemming from the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, the Justice Department announced.
Enrique Tarrio, 38, was arrested in Miami on a charge of conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding, a felony that federal prosecutors have brought against hundreds of Capitol riot defendants and carries a maximum possible sentence of 20 years in prison.
Tarrio is being charged alongside five co-defendants affiliated with the Proud Boys who were all indicted early last year and have since pleaded not guilt to an effort to “stop delay and hinder the certification of the electoral college vote.”
Tarrio was not present on the day of the attack. He was arrested on Jan. 4 and ordered to stay away from D.C. after he was accused of burning a stolen flag from an African American church in December 2020.
But prosecutors alleged on Tuesday that Tarrio helped organize and rally the Proud Boys to travel to D.C. with the intent to obstruct Congress’s certification of the Electoral College votes that delivered President Biden his victory.
The indictment notes that on Jan. 5, Tarrio met with Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the far-right Oath Keepers group who has been arrested and charged with seditious conspiracy. During the riot, he continued to keep in touch with members of the Proud Boys, telling them they would be subject to “top down leadership.”
“Tarrio nonetheless continued to direct and encourage the Proud Boys prior to and during the events of Jan. 6, 2021, and… he claimed credit for what had happened on social media and in an encrypted chat room during and after the attack,” DOJ said in its release.
The DOJ said Tarrio instructed members to not wear the group’s traditional black and yellow as a way to be “incognito” during the riot.
Shortly after 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 6, Tarrio wrote in an encrypted chat “yep” when asked by a member if they were a militia and later responded “Make no mistake…we did this,” prosecutors said.
The filing also indicates Tarrio had phone calls with Proud Boy members on the ground during the riot.
But the bulk of the charges rest on what the DOJ says was Tarrio’s involvement in leading the Proud Boys well in advance of the attack, heading a new chapter called the “Ministry of Self Defense.”
He also shared a document with an undisclosed individual titled “1776 returns” which laid out plans to occupy “crucial buildings” in order to “show our politicians We The People are in charge,” according to the filing.
Tarrio later told the same individual “I am not playing games.”
Tarrio was subpoenaed by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol in November, alongside Rhodes, the Oath Keepers leader.
The subpoena details how other Proud Boys members “describe prior planning and coordination, including efforts to fundraise for ‘[p]rotective gear and communications.’”
The subpoena also noted a history of acts of violence from Proud Boys members while “video evidence plainly demonstrates that Proud Boys members are involved in the Jan. 6 attack.”
DOJ observers have for weeks been speculating that Tarrio could face an indictment similar to that facing Rhodes – a move Tarrio told reporters in January he was “absolutely not” worried about.
Updated at 1:08 p.m.
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