Four Proud Boys guilty in major US Capitol riot case

Henry 'Enrique' Tarrio, the former national leader of the Proud Boys
Henry ‘Enrique’ Tarrio

Five members of the far-right Proud Boys, including former leader Enrique Tarrio, face decades in prison after being found guilty for their role in the January 6 US Capitol riot.

Four were convicted of seditious conspiracy, and all five were found guilty of obstructing official proceedings, alongside other felonies. The most serious charges carry penalties of up to 20 years in prison.

More than 100 members of the far-right, all-male group joined the Capitol riot.

All five defendants were found guilty of conspiracy to prevent officials from discharging their duties, impeding officers during civil disorder, and destruction of a fence protecting the Capitol.

A mistrial was declared on a total of 10 charges against the men where the jury failed to come to a conclusion, after a complex trial that took nearly four months – more than twice as long as planned.

The Proud Boys were steadfast supporters of Donald Trump who marched several times in Washington DC after the 2020 election, often clashing with far-left anti-fascists. Their protests culminated on 6 January 2021, as the election results were due to be certified by Congress.

Unlike his co-defendants, former Proud Boy chairman Henry “Enrique” Tarrio was not in Washington that day.

He was arrested two days before for previously burning a Black Lives Matter banner and weapons charges. He was ordered by a judge to leave the city and ended up watching events from a hotel room in nearby Baltimore.

Tarrio’s co-defendants included Ethan Nordean, 31, of Washington state, who goes by the alias “Rufio Panman”.

Nordean was active in Proud Boy street protests and brawls with anti-fascist activists in the Pacific Northwest. In video from 6 January, he was seen leading members of the group around the Capitol along with co-defendant Joe Biggs, 38, of Florida, a US Army veteran and former broadcaster for Alex Jones’s Infowars.

Zachary Rehl, 36, a former US Marine and leader of the Philadelphia branch of the Proud Boys, was also part of a group that stormed the building.

A fifth defendant, 44-year-old Dominic Pezzola of Rochester, New York, was found not guilty of seditious conspiracy. Pezzola, also a former US Marine and at the time a relatively recent recruit to the group, took a riot shield from police officer and smashed a window. He was one of the first people inside the building and lit a cigar in celebration.

However, while testifying in his own defence he said he was acting alone and had not met his co-defendants prior to that day.

He was convicted of assaulting a police officer while taking the riot shield, while the others were found not guilty on that charge. Rehl also testified in his own defence, but the others did not take the stand.

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