Court Battles

Tarrio, Proud Boys set for trial on seditious conspiracy charges

Federal prosecutors are expected on Wednesday to launch their second seditious conspiracy case related to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, this time bringing charges against leaders of the right-wing Proud Boys. 

Leader Enrique Tarrio is on trial alongside four other members of the group, each facing up to 20 years in prison for their role in the attack. 

Prosecutors are expected to offer their opening arguments beginning Wednesday in the trial, which is expected to last one month. The arguments come just weeks after federal prosecutors successfully secured a guilty verdict for a similar case against members of the far-right Oath Keepers militia. 

The two cases have a number of parallels. 

Like Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, who was found guilty late last year, Tarrio did not storm the Capitol that day. He had been ordered to remain outside of Washington, D.C., after being arrested just days before. But federal prosecutors allege he oversaw the activities of as many as 300 people rioting at the Capitol. 

The other defendants — Joseph Biggs, Ethan Nordean, Dominic Pezzola and Zachary Rehl — were among the first to push past police barricades, mirroring the early involvement of Oath Keepers members who used a “stack formation” to march their way into the Capitol.  

Biggs videotaped himself shortly before the group forced its way into the Capitol, saying, “We’ve gone through every barricade so far. F— you!” 

Pezzola, who had taken an officer’s shield while they were fighting with other protesters, took photos with the item shortly before using it to smash in a Capitol window. 

Like members of the Oath Keepers, each of the defendants faces charges beyond seditious conspiracy, including conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding. 

The Proud Boys trial has faced several obstacles ahead of opening arguments.  

Norm Pattis, an attorney for Biggs, had his law license suspended in Connecticut last week due to his involvement in improperly sharing medical information about the families of Sandy Hook victims while representing conspiracy theorist and radio host Alex Jones. 

Pattis shared that information with the attorney representing Jones in a Texas-based defamation case. 

The Proud Boys trial also faced delays as Judge Timothy Kelly disqualified a number of potential jurors who said they had negative opinions about the group. 

The Proud Boys describe themselves as “Western Chauvinists” and were referenced in a presidential debate by former President Trump, who, when President Biden referenced the group, said they should “stand back and stand by.” 

In late December, the group members started a new chapter called the Ministry of Self Defense, coordinating about plans to show up “incognito” on Jan. 6, rather than in their usual black and yellow attire.  

Tarrio, the government’s indictment alleges, would later share a document titled “1776 Returns” with the group’s members, pointing out a number of D.C. buildings it deemed “crucial.” 

When another member of the group referenced the plans for a revolution, Tarrio responded, “That’s what every waking moment consists of.” 

“I’m not playing games,” he added. 

–Updated at 9:19 a.m.

Tags Dominic Pezzola Donald Trump Enrique Tarrio Jan. 6 Capitol riot Oath Keepers proud Boys Stewart Rhodes

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