Members of the “Proud Boys” convicted

A US court has convicted the ex-leader and three members of the far-right group Proud Boys of the January 2021 attack on the Capitol. They conspired to keep President Trump in power.

More than two years after the attack on the US Capitol, the former leader of the far-right Proud Boys and other members of the group have been convicted by a US court.

A Washington jury found Henry “Enrique” Tarrio and three other men guilty of charges including “seditious conspiracy” in connection with the January 6, 2021 attack.

This criminal offense is very rarely used. The jury found it established that Tarrio had led a plot by members of his organization. Their goal was therefore to use force to prevent the democratic transfer of power and to keep the ousted President Donald Trump in power.

The penalty will be determined at a later date. The maximum penalty for “seditious conspiracy” is up to 20 years in prison. Several members of the extreme right-wing militia “Oath Keepers” had previously been convicted of the criminal offense.

Defense blames Trump for attack

Trump supporters stormed the seat of the US Congress in Washington on January 6, 2021. Congress met there to formally confirm the victory of Democrat Joe Biden in the presidential election. Trump had previously incited his supporters in a speech. He claimed he was deprived of his victory by massive voter fraud. Five people died as a result of the riots.

Tarrio wasn’t in Washington himself on Jan. 6, but prosecutors say he organized and led the attack by the “Proud Boys,” who along with others stormed the Capitol. The defense has said there was no plan to storm the Capitol or prevent Congress from confirming Trump’s vote. Trump is responsible for the attack on the seat of Congress.

Trump still has many supporters among right-wing extremist militias. Tarrio was leading the neo-fascist “Proud Boys” when Trump urged the group to stand by during his first debate with Biden in 2020. The public prosecutor’s office showed footage of it several times during the process. “These defendants saw themselves as Donald Trump’s army, fighting to keep their preferred leader in power no matter what the law or the courts had to say,” prosecutor Conor Mulroe said in his closing argument.

The indictment relies on hundreds of text messages exchanged between Proud Boys members in the days leading up to Jan. 6, spreading Trump’s unfounded claim that his election defeat was a fraud. As the “Proud Boys” stormed the Capitol, Tarrio cheered them on from afar. “Do what needs to be done,” he wrote on social media, and later when asked by a member what to do now, “Do it again.”

Special Counsel has Trump in his sights

The ex-president has not yet been held criminally responsible for the storming of the Capitol. A special counsel appointed by the Justice Department has his sights set on Trump, who wants to run again in the 2024 presidential election. Most recently, Trump’s former Vice President Mike Pence was questioned in the course of the investigation.

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