Prosecutors Rest in Proud Boys January 6 Case

March 20, 2023

Federal prosecutors rested their seditious conspiracy case against Proud Boys leader Henry “Enrique” Tarrio and four of his lieutenants in their actions surrounding the deadly January 6, 2021 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol.

Jurors in DC federal court heard more than 30 days of testimony over more than two months by more than 20 prosecution witnesses, including from two former Proud Boys who are cooperating with the federal government in hopes of lighter sentences. 

Prosecutors have sought to characterize Tarrio as a singular figure who holds the key both to what the extremist group planned that day as well as whether it coordinated with others amid the deadly riot that attempted to obstruct Congress in its duty to certify the 2020 Presidential election.

Tarrio and the other defendants could face up to 20 years in federal prison if found guilty of seditious conspiracy, which is defined as attempting to “overthrow, put down or to destroy by force the government of the United States.” Until recently, it has rarely been prosecuted. However, in October the former leader of the Proud Boys, Jeremy Bertino, pled guilty to seditious conspiracy for his connections to the January 6 insurrection. 

In November, a jury found Stewart Rhodes, founder of the far-right group the Oath Keepers, guilty of seditious conspiracy linked to his actions during January 6, as well as the head of the Oath Keepers’ Florida chapter, Kelly Meggs. In January, four more Oath Keepers were also found guilty of seditious conspiracy.

Tarrio and co-defendants Joe Biggs, Ethan Nordean, Zachary Rehl and Dominic Pezzola have pleaded not guilty. Jurors will next hear testimony from defense witnesses before they begin deliberating. 

Defense attorneys have argued there is no evidence the Proud Boys plotted to attack the Capitol. Tarrio was not in the city of Washington on January 6, and most of the defendants are not accused of  engaging in violence themselves.

However, prosecutors said Tarrio directed the attack from Baltimore because he had been ordered to stay out of DC after being arrested on January 4 for burning a Black Lives Matter banner at a historic African-American church during the previous month.

So far, prosecutors have brought criminal charges against more than 1,000 people following the assault on the U.S. Capitol. Four people died during the insurrection, and five police officers died of various causes following the attack.

PHOTO: Tyler Merbler

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