WASHINGTON (AP) — The seditious conspiracy of former Proud Boys National Chairman Enrique Tarrio and four other members of extremist groups accused of plotting the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol Jury selection will begin on Monday at the trial. Trying to reverse the victory of President Joe Biden.
Tario and four of his deputies scored a landslide victory in a major Justice Department indictment on January 6, convicting two leaders of another extremist group, the Oathkeepers, for a sedition conspiracy. He is on trial in Washington just weeks after receiving it.
Tario is perhaps the most famous defendant to face a jury in an attack that suspended recognition of Biden’s victory, injured dozens of police officers and led to nearly 1,000 arrests. , Ethan Nordine, Zachary Lehr, Dominique Pezola, and Joseph Biggs, among others, have been charged with several charges in addition to conspiracy to sedition.
If convicted of sedition, you can face up to 20 years in prison. Jury selection will likely take several days, and the trial is expected to last at least six weeks.
Thario was not in Washington on Jan. 6 because he had been arrested two days earlier for allegedly vandalizing a Black Lives Matter banner at a historic black church during December 2020 protests. But prosecutors say he was the leader of a conspiracy to block the transfer of power from President Donald Trump to Biden.
Days before the riot, Thario posted about the “revolution” on social media, according to court documents. Officials say members discussed the attack on the Capitol, citing encrypted messages crafted by Tario that they claimed were his group. “It’s time to pile the bodies in front of the Capitol,” read one message. Another asked if people would “break through the police lines and storm the Houses of Parliament.”
Prosecutors allege that even after his arrest, Tario directed the Proud Boys that attacked the Capitol on January 6 and cheered on their actions from a distance. Posting “(expletive) please don’t walk away” on social media, followed by “we did this…”
According to prosecutors, Nordian, Pezzola, Biggs and Lahr were part of the first wave of mobs to break into the Capitol grounds and charge across police barricades toward the building. Prosecutors allege they used riot shields stolen from police officers to break down windows and allow the first rioters to enter the building.
“January 6th is going to be an infamous day,” Biggs said in a video outside the Capitol, according to court documents.
A native of Auburn, Washington, Nordean was president of the Proud Boys chapter. Originally from Ormond Beach, Florida, Biggs was the host of the self-proclaimed Proud Boys. Rehl was president of his Proud Boys chapter in Philadelphia. Dominic Pezzola hails from Rochester, New York where he was a member of the Proud Boys.
Defense attorneys deny that Proud Boys leaders planned or led the attack on the Capitol.
Thario’s attorneys say he never directed or encouraged him to enter the Capitol or engage in violent or destructive behavior. It selectively prosecuted him based on his political affiliation and beliefs, accusing him of targeting him. Reel’s attorney asked the judge to dismiss the charges under the First Amendment, arguing that the case was based solely on Reel’s political views and free speech.
Another former Proud Boys leader, Jeremy Joseph Bertino, pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy charges in October and was allowed to testify against Thario and others under a cooperation agreement with the government. did it.
Last month’s convictions against Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rose and Florida chapter leader Kelly Meggs were the first inflammatory conspiracy trial convictions in decades. The seditious plots enacted after the Civil War to arrest Southerners who might continue to fight the U.S. government are rarely remembered these days, with mixed results.
A jury acquitted three other Oath Keeper sedition conspiracy defendants, although they were convicted of other crimes. Four others associated with the Oathkeeper are also currently on trial for seditious conspiracy.
Richer reported from Boston.
For AP coverage of the Capitol riots, see https://apnews.com/hub/capitol-siege.
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