Shirtless Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio is ripped from his bed and arrested on Jan 6 conspiracy charges

Proud Boys members appeared at numerous pro-Trump events in aftermath of 2020 election

Andrew Naughtie,John Bowden
Tuesday 08 March 2022 21:32
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Trump refuses to denounce white supremacism and instead tells Proud Boys to ‘stand back and stand by'

Enrique Tarrio, a longtime leader of the extremist “western chauvinist” Proud Boys group, will face conspiracy charges related to the 6 January riot at the US Capitol.

The indictment against Mr Tarrio was docketed on Tuesday morning in Washington, DC. The indictment accuses Mr Tarrio and other high-ranking figures in the Proud Boys organisation including Joseph Biggs of organising the attendance of many members of their group at the Capitol riot, distributing “paramilitary gear and supplies” to would-be rioters, and finally “directing, mobilizing and leading” members of the group into the Capitol itself during the riot.

One particularly revealing bit of information in the indictment was a message apparently sent by Mr Tarrio to Mr Biggs less than a month before the attack on Congress where the two leaders discussed the membership of their organisation and whether it appealed to, in Mr Biggs’s words, “losers”.

“Let’s get radical and get real men,” Mr Tarrio responded.

Mr Tarrio will appear in court later Tuesday in Florida, where he was arrested at his home in Miami on Tuesday morning. Video from NBC6 showed him emerging from his home shirtless after officers allegedly dragged him out of bed.

“Although Tarrio is not accused of physically taking part in the breach of the Capitol, the indictment alleges that he led the advance planning and remained in contact with other members of the Proud Boys during their breach of the Capitol. Tarrio was arrested on Jan. 4, 2021, on a warrant charging him in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia with destruction of property in the Dec. 12, 2020, burning of a Black Lives Matter banner. He was released at approximately 5 p.m. on Jan. 5, 2021. As a condition of his release, he was ordered by the court to stay out of Washington,” explained the Justice Department in a news release.

The press release continued: “The indictment alleges that Tarrio nonetheless continued to direct and encourage the Proud Boys prior to and during the events of Jan. 6, 2021, and that he claimed credit for what had happened on social media and in an encrypted chat room during and after the attack.”

Before he became known for his leadership of the Proud Boys, Mr Tarrio previously served as a law enforcement informant in cases ranging from drugs, illicit gambling and human trafficking.

In August 2021, he was sentenced to five months in jail after he pleaded guilty to burning a Black Lives Matter banner at a church in Washington.

The incident occurred during a protest less than a month before the Capitol riot; he was arrested for it when arriving back in the capital on 4 January 2021, at which point he was carrying two empty ammunition magazines bearing the Proud Boys’ insignia.

Alongside Mr Tarrio’s group, other extremist organisations are facing criminal action in relation to the events of the insurrection. Chief among them are the Oath Keepers, whose leader, Stewart Rhodes, has been charged with “seditious conspiracy” – among the most serious charges yet levelled at anyone involved in the riot.

Four other members of Mr Tarrio’s group were indicted on obstruction charges soon after the riot, and spent much of 2021 fighting against them. In December, a judge ruled against their arguments that the obstruction law is unconstitutionally vague, writing that “this alleged conduct is simply not protected by the First Amendment”.

The indictment of Mr Tarrio comes as the Justice Department is committing significant resources, through the FBI’s Washington DC field office, into identifying and criminally charging participants in the attack on Congress. Hundreds have already been hit with criminal charges and the agencies have sought help from the public in identifying persons from images and videos of the attack.

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