Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the “Western Chauvinist” Proud Boys group, has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and obstruction charges in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Tarrio, 38, is accused of conspiring to organize the violent siege at the Capitol, when hundreds of Donald Trump supporters pushed past police and swarmed the building, temporarily stopping Congress from certifying Joe Biden‘s win in the 2020 presidential election.
He pleaded not guilty on Tuesday before U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly to five charges, including destruction of government property, civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding, and assaulting, resisting, or impeding police officers.
Tarrio was arrested at his Florida home in March. His co-defendants include Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Charles Donohoe, Zachary Rehl, and Dominic Pezzola, all alleged Proud Boys who have been previously charged with Jan. 6 offenses.
There is a reason Tarrio has not charged with breaching the Capitol. A D.C. judge had given a stay-away order keeping Tarrio away from the nation’s capital in connection with his prior arrest for burning a Black Lives Matter flag that had been taken from an historic church. Tarrio flouted that order and went to Washington anyway, prosecutors say.
“Tarrio did not immediately comply with the order to leave the District of Columbia. After being turned away from the Phoenix Park Hotel, Tarrio traveled to a nearby underground parking garage, where he met with Elmer Stewart Rhodes, the founder and leader of the Oath Keepers, and other individuals known and unknown to the grand jury, for approximately 30 minutes. During this encounter, a participant referenced the Capitol.”
Prosecutors say that the meeting occurred on the night of Jan. 5, the eve of the attack on the Capitol.
After that, Tarrio allegedly coordinated with members of the extremist group’s self-styled Ministry of Self Defense, abbreviated in the indictment as MOSD.
“Thereafter, Tarrio left the District of Columbia and traveled to Baltimore, Maryland,” the indictment states. “Subsequently, Tarrio’s designated MOSD leaders, and other individuals whose identities are known to the grand jury, carried out the MOSD leadership’s objective.”
The allegations of the indictment, however, long predate the attack on the Capitol and the immediate days before it.
Tarrio is quoted three days after the 2020 presidential election speaking about the prospect of “civil war,” parroting false claims of a stolen election.
“The media constantly accuses us of wanting start a civil war,” he allegedly posted about the election results. “Careful what the fuck you ask for we don’t want to start one…but we will sure a fuck finish one.”
Rhodes was indicted in January and is charged with seditious conspiracy, the most serious allegation in the government’s prosecution of people suspected in the Jan. 6 siege. One of Rhodes’ accused co-conspirators, Joshua James, pleaded guilty in early March and announced his intention to “fully cooperate” with the government.
Also at the hearing, Kelly said that he would grant the government’s request to vacate the May 18 trial date that had previously been set for the case.
Attorneys for the defendants had opposed the motion. Kelly said he would issue a written ruling on Tuesday explaining his reasoning. It has not been made public by press time.
Adam Klasfeld contributed to this report.
[Image via Joe Raedle/Getty Images.]
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