Jury convicts Enrique Tarrio of the Proud Boys on seditious conspiracy charge : NPR

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Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, leader of the Proud Boys, is shown here during a protest in support of Cubans demonstrating against their government in Miami on July 16, 2021.

Eva Marie Uzcategui/AFP via Getty Images

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Eva Marie Uzcategui/AFP via Getty Images

Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, leader of the Proud Boys, is shown here during a protest in support of Cubans demonstrating against their government in Miami on July 16, 2021.

Eva Marie Uzcategui/AFP via Getty Images

Former Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio and three other members of the far-right group Proud Boys have been convicted of seditious conspiracy by a federal jury in Washington, DC

Jurors also convicted Tarrio and the others of obstructing an official proceeding, conspiracy to obstruct an officer in the performance of their duties, obstructing law enforcement during a civil disorder and destruction of government property valued at more than $1,000 in one of the most important cases to date. stemming from the siege on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Jurors failed to reach a verdict on a seditious conspiracy involving another defendant, Dominic Pezzola, who is well known for taking a shield from a police officer on January 6 and using it to smash into a window in the Capitol.

Judge Timothy Kelly interviewed the jurors about the charges and ordered them to deliberate again on other charges for which they failed to reach a verdict. He excused them at 11:13 AM

The verdict amounts to a significant victory for the Justice Department, which has now secured convictions against top leaders of both the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers for their roles in trying to keep former President Trump in the power and stop the certification of the 2020 election.

“Politics was no longer something for the debating room or the voting booth,” prosecutor Conor Mulroe told jurors in his closing argument last week. “For them, politics meant actual physical violence… And they liked it and were good at it.”

Tarrio and the other defendants, who were held in federal custody during the trial, face up to 20 years in prison on the most serious charges against them.

Former President Donald Trump loomed over the process like a shadow.

Both prosecutors and defense attorneys played the jury a video of Trump calling on the Proud Boys to “sit back and stand up” during a presidential debate, a moment that delighted the club and produced a number lots of new membership questions.

Tarrio’s lawyers, who spent January 6 in a hotel room in Baltimore, but who monitored the action from a distance, argued that he was a mere “scapegoat” for the Department of Justice and a much easier target.

“It was Donald Trump’s words, it was his motivation, it was his anger that caused what happened on January 6 in your amazing and beautiful city,” said Hassan. “They want to use Enrique Tarrio as a scapegoat for Donald Trump and those in power.”

But prosecutors reminded the jury that after a mob overran the Capitol that day, Tarrio sent a message that said, “make no mistake, we did it.”

The sprawling case included 500,000 chat messages, video clips, podcasts and even a police riot shield. FBI special agents, police on the front lines on January 6, and former members of the Proud Boys who pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors made up most of the list of Justice Department testimony.

Two defendants also agreed to testify — with marked results.

Zachary Rehl, the former leader of the Philadelphia chapter of the Proud Boys, painted himself as a family man only to be confronted with a video of him allegedly spraying chemicals at law enforcement officers.

Pezzola, who broke a window in the Capitol that other rioters were pouring into the building, told jurors that he took responsibility for his mistakes that day, only to call the case “corrupt” in an uproar during cross-examination.

The defense lawyers said that there was not a shred of written evidence that the men had conspired to stop the certification of the election using force.

“There are no statements in any of those chats about stopping the transfer of power … with or without force,” Hassan said.

Nick Smith, a lawyer for defendant Ethan Nordean, cited “almost constant attempts to get you to make a sentence based on anger” about the defendants’ right-wing political views and inflammatory language.

The other defendant is Joseph Biggs, a former military service member who worked for the conspiracy site InfoWars. His lawyer, Norm Pattis, told the jurors that many of the Proud Boys genuinely believed that the 2020 election had been stolen.

“Why do I stress the role of the president?” Pattis asked the jury. “There is not much trial here although I would like it to be. … If my president tells me that my republic is being stolen, who do I listen to: the thief or the commander in chief?”

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