Former Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio and his associate Ethan Nordean faced a delay in their sentencing, originally scheduled for Wednesday, due to U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly’s absence due to illness.
The rescheduling sets Nordean’s sentencing for Friday, Sept. 1, and Tarrio’s for Tuesday, Sept. 5. Prosecutors have recommended a 33-year prison term for Tarrio and a 27-year term for Nordean, marking potentially the most severe penalties for those involved in the January 6, 2021, Capitol brouhaha.
“The defendants understood the stakes, and they embraced their role in bringing about a ‘revolution,'” prosecutors conveyed in a recent memorandum to Judge Kelly. “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. The foot soldiers of the right aimed to keep their leader in power. They failed. They are not heroes; they are criminals,” the prosecutors emphasized.
Prosecutors claim that the Proud Boys played a pivotal role in sparking much of the Capitol’s violence. Tarrio’s leadership stands out, particularly in guiding his followers to disrupt the 2020 election’s congressional certification, even though he wasn’t personally in Washington, D.C., during the assault. Prosecutors have sought a longer sentence for Tarrio than the 25 years they previously recommended for Oath Keepers’ leader Stewart Rhodes. Rhodes received an 18-year sentence earlier this year, the harshest penalty for a Jan. 6 participant to date.
Prosecutors aim for Kelly to apply a “terrorism enhancement” during sentencing, which would extend the prison terms for each defendant. This enhancement would effectively categorize their actions as domestic terrorism. The prosecution’s extensive 80-page sentencing memo highlights the Proud Boys’ history of political violence in various U.S. cities, including Portland, Oregon and Washington, D.C. Their violent confrontations with leftist protesters have become notorious.
Prosecutors also noted the group’s growth in numbers and confidence after former President Trump’s mention of them during a 2020 presidential debate. Trump’s words “stand back and stand by” were seen as an endorsement of the group’s actions. Tarrio’s leadership was evident as he rallied group members for protests in D.C. in late 2020. His arrest in D.C. two days before Jan. 6 was due to charges related to burning a Black Lives Matter flag and possessing two high-capacity firearm magazines. Despite being ordered to stay away from the city, evidence presented during the trial showed Tarrio maintaining close communication with associates during the Capitol attack.
The prosecution’s sentencing memo extensively references the group’s advocacy for using force to halt President Joe Biden’s election certification. Their encrypted messaging app communications, recruitment efforts and actions during the riot further fueled the violence.
“Such conduct in leading and instigating an attack like January 6 demands deterrence,” prosecutors asserted. “It is critical that this Court impose significant sentences of incarceration on all the defendants in this case to convey to those who would mobilize such political violence in the future that their actions will have consequences.”
Three other Proud Boys members, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl and Dominic Pezzola, await their sentencing later this week. The prosecution recommends 33 years for Biggs, 30 years for Rehl and 20 years for Pezzola. Pezzola was the only defendant acquitted of seditious conspiracy after the lengthy trial. However, he was found guilty of other felonies, including breaking into the Capitol using a stolen police riot shield.
The defense for the Proud Boys has called for more lenient sentences, arguing that the charges against them were exaggerated. They contend that much of their communication falls under First Amendment-protected political speech.
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