Proud Boys member given longest sentence yet over ‘ultimate leader’ role in Capitol riot

Proud Boy leader Enrique Tarrio smile while wearing a dark green t-shirt and cap

A member of the far-right Proud Boys has been handed the longest prison sentence yet for anyone involved in the 6 January Capitol insurrection.

Enrique Tarrio, a former leader of the group, was jailed for 22 years after being convicted of seditious conspiracy.

He didn’t physically take part in the riots, but played a part in encouraging those involved.

The insurrection took place on 6 January 2021 following Donald Trump’s defeat in the presidential election. Members of the extremist group, including Tarrio, had posted threatening messages online following the former president’s loss, warning of violence if the outcome of voting was certified and Trump was forced to leave the White House.

The Proud Boys is an all-male, neo-fascist organisation. Founded in 2016, it is actively militant, and often promotes political violence. Members of the group have previously described themselves as an “all-male drinking club”, and as Trump’s soldiers.

To date, more than 1,100 people, of an estimated 2,000, have been arrested on charges relating to the riot.

You may like to watch

Tarrio was in Baltimore, Maryland, on the day itself, having been stopped by police two days earlier as he entered Washington DC. Taking a back seat and watching online, he urged protesters to “do what must be done” and added that he was “enjoying the show.”

The ‘ultimate leader’

Prior to his sentencing on Tuesday, Tarrio apologised for his role in orchestrating the riot.

“I am extremely ashamed and disappointed that they were caused grief and suffering”, he told the federal courthouse in Washington, BBC News reports.

“I will have to live with that shame for the rest of my life. I have failed as a son, as a fiancé, as a brother, as a nephew… I have been selfish.

“I was my own worst enemy,” he added, noting that his “hubris” convinced him that he was a “victim and targeted unfairly”.

According to Tarrio, his goal was not to “inflict harm” or “change the results of the election”, which he didn’t think was “possible.”

His lawyer labelled him a “keyboard warrior” and “misguided patriot” who did “talk trash” about the government but had no intention to overthrow it.

Tarrio begged US district judge Timothy Kelly for mercy, as did his mother. The prosecution had sought a 33-year jail sentence.

Despite his remorse, however, Judge Kelly noted that Tarrio had previously expressed no regret for his actions, describing him as the “ultimate leader” of the attack on the Capitol.

Judge Kelly said of the riot: “That day broke our previously unbroken tradition of the peaceful transfer of power, which is truly among the most precious things that we had as Americans… that previously unbroken string is now broken. And it’s going to take time and effort to fix it.”

Tarrio directed a peace sign to the public gallery as he was led away from court, and his lawyers have confirmed that he plans to appeal against the sentence.

Last week, four other Proud Boys were handed prison sentences for their role in the riot, with former marines Dominic Pezzola, who was convicted of assaulting police and obstructing an official proceeding, sentenced to 10 years. A jury cleared him of seditious conspiracy.

Zachary Rehl was given a 15-year term after being convicted of the more serious charge of seditious conspiracy.

Meanwhile, veteran Joe Biggs was given 17 years, and Ethan Nordean, infamous in the Pacific Northwest for attacking protestors, 18 years. Both were convicted of seditious conspiracy.

Please login or register to comment on this story.