“We need to make sure the consequences are abundantly clear to anyone who might be unhappy with the results of 2024, 2028, 2032 or any future election for as long as this case is remembered,” prosecutor Conor Mulroe said. “This was a calculated act of terrorism.”
Tarrio wasn’t in Washington, D.C, when Proud Boys members joined thousands of Trump supporters, who smashed windows, beat police officers and poured into the House and Senate chambers as lawmakers met to certify Biden’s victory. But prosecutors say the 39-year-old Miami resident organised and led the Proud Boys’ assault from afar, inspiring followers with his charisma and penchant for propaganda.
Tarrio had been arrested two days before the Capitol riot on charges that he defaced a Black Lives Matter banner during an earlier rally in the nation’s capital, and he had complied with a judge’s order to leave the city after his arrest.
U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly, who was nominated to the bench by Trump, agreed with prosecutors that the Proud Boys’ crimes could be punished as “terrorism” — increasing the recommended sentence under federal guidelines. But he ultimately sentenced the Proud Boys to prison terms shorter than what prosecutors were seeking.
The backbone of the government’s case was hundreds of messages exchanged by Proud Boys in the days leading up to Jan. 6 that prosecutors say showed how the extremists saw themselves as revolutionaries and celebrated the Capitol attack, which sent lawmakers running into hiding.
As Proud Boys swarmed the Capitol, Tarrio cheered them on from afar, writing on social media: “Do what must be done.” In a Proud Boys encrypted group chat later that day someone asked what they should do next. Tarrio responded: “Do it again.”
“Make no mistake,” Tarrio wrote in another message. “We did this.”
Tarrio’s lawyers denied the Proud Boys had any plan to attack the Capitol or stop the certification of Biden’s victory. They argued that prosecutors used Tarrio as a scapegoat for Trump, who spoke at the “Stop the Steal” rally near the White House on January 6 and urged his supporters to “fight like hell.”
Tarrio is the final Proud Boys leader convicted of seditious conspiracy to receive his punishment. Three fellow Proud Boys found guilty by a Washington jury of the rarely used sedition charge were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 15 to 18 years.
The Justice Department is appealing the 18-year prison sentence of Rhodes, the Oath Keepers founder, who was convicted of seditious conspiracy in a separate case, as well as the sentences of other members of his antigovernment militia group that were lighter than what prosecutors had sought. Prosecutors had requested 25 years in prison for Rhodes.
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