Proud Boys leader, members charged with seditious conspiracy
The decision marks a major progress in the Capitol riots investigation.
The national chairman of the right-wing Proud Boys group, in addition to other top leaders, have been charged with seditious conspiracy for planning to storm the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in a bid by Trump to overturn the election results.
Enrique Tarrio, who was indicted and arrested in March on the account of conspiracy, in addition to other charges such as the obstruction of a proceeding in Congress, marks a major development in the Capitol attack investigation.
On Monday, a 33-pages long indictment was revealed, saying that the Justice Department said that Tarrio and his co-defendants, Joseph Biggs, Ethan Nordean, Zachary Rehl and Dominic Pezzola, used encrypted messaging apps to try and block Biden from assuming presidency.
The current charges against the group members come just a few days before the investigation panel begins television-broadcast hearings which will look into Trump's involvement in the Capitol riots.
It is worth noting that seditious conspiracy is a challenging accusation to prove, as it requires that federal prosecutors present solid grounds for the argument that at least two people agreed to overthrow the government or interfere in law reinforcement by force.
The Department of Justice, as it seems, has learned new information about the Capitol riots in order to have taken this decision to charge the Boys.
In April, Charles Donoghue, who was charged along with Tarrio and other co-defendants, pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with a criminal investigation, depicting one of the many significant developments in the inquiry.
The two people who have been identified as conspirators are Jeremy Bertino and Aaron Whallon Wolkind. However, none of those men have been charged. John Stewart, a third top leader in the group, also has not been charged.
The indictment document indicated that on December 20, 2020, Tarrio created a chat room and named it "MOSD Leaders Group," which Tarrio described as a "national rally planning committee" that included Nordean, Biggs, Rehl and other members.
Proud Boy leaders throughout the rest of the month used other MOSD group chats to plan a trip to Washington, stressing on members not to wear their group's black and yellow shirts, but to rather wear other colors to remain "Incognito".
Tarrio, between December 30 and 31, communicated with a person whose name is only known to the grand jury. The person sent Tarrio a 9-page document called the "1776 returns," which is the year the US became independent from Britain. The document was a plan layout to occupy "crucial buildings" on January 6. The document does not specifically lay out a plan to occupy the Capitol itself, but to storm crucial governmental buildings in Washington.
According to Tarrio, he received the "1776 returns" document from one of his girlfriends, who compared storming the St Petersburg Winter Palace to the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, according to the New York Times. After the Capitol attack finished, Bertino texted Tarrio "1776"; Tarrio responded "The Winter Palace."
Three days before the Capitol riots, one Proud Boy member posted a message on the MOSD Leaders Group, where he said that “main operating theater should be out in front of the House of Representatives”, according to the indictment.
“That’s where the vote is taking place with all of the objections,” the person said, according to the indictment. “Plan the operations based around the front entrance to the Capitol building. I strongly recommend you use the National Mall and not Pennsylvania Avenue.”
Bertino, after the attack, messaged Tarrio, "You know we made this happen."
Referring to the attempts to block Biden's assumption of office, Bertino wrote, "They HAVE to certify today. Or it’s invalid.”
Although Tarrio was not in Washington on January 6, 2021, the Justice Department nonetheless argues that he “led the advance planning and remained in contact with other members of the Proud Boys during” the attack.