Proud Boys face up to 33 years in prison for participation in Capitol insurrection

Pro-Trump supporters including members of neo-fascist group the Proud Boys storm the U.S. Capitol following a rally with President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Four members of the far-right group the Proud Boys are facing maximum sentences of between 27 and 33 years in prison after being found guilty of seditious conspiracy for their participation in the US Capitol insurrection on 6 January 2021

Prosecutors are seeking 33 years in federal prison for Enrique Tarrio and Joseph Biggs, 30 years for Zachary Rehl and 27 years for Ethan Nordean, who were all convicted of seditious conspiracy in May, NBC News reported.

A fifth member of the neo-fascist group, Dominic Pezzola, was acquitted of seditious conspiracy, but was found guilty of assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers, and could face 20 years in prison.

Pezzola reportedly smashed a Capitol window with a stolen police shield, the first breach of the building during the riots. 

Sentencing hearings are set for the week beginning 28 August. 

In the two-and-a-half years since the Capitol insurrection – in which over 2,000 rioters entered the government building – more than 1,000 people have been arrested for their involvement, with investigations ongoing.

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On the first anniversary of the insurrection, Trump told his supporters that “MAGA nation should rise up”, while Joe Biden gave a speech at the Capitol, promising to “make sure that such an attack never happens again”.

A photo shows Tennessee State Police standing between members of far-right group Proud Boys and counter protestors during a protest against gender-affirming care
Proud Boys being met by counter-protestors during a protest against gender-affirming care in Tennessee (AFP/Seth Herald via Getty Images)

Prosecutors claimed the Proud Boys were guilty of crimes of terrorism, and that their sentences should “be noted by those who would foment such political violence in the future.”

“The defendants understood the stakes, and they embraced their role in bringing about a ‘revolution’,” they added. 

“They unleashed a force on the Capitol that was calculated to exert their political will on elected officials by force and to undo the results of a democratic election.

“They failed. They are not heroes; they are criminals.”

A court filing added that a “significant sentence” was necessary in the case of “naturally charismatic leader” and “savvy propagandist” Tarrio, which the courts said would “limit his ability to recruit and direct followers”. 

The Proud Boys group have become notorious for their anti-LGBTQ+ campaigning and protesting, with the group recently staging a protest outside a drag bingo event and targeting an LGBTQ+ library event with harassment.  

In 2021, Proud Boys organised a “straight Pride” in California, an event that ended in violence as the far-right group clashed with counter-protesters.