Ex-Proud Boy says group ‘celebrated’ violence ahead of U.S. Capitol riot
Matthew Greene, a New York resident and veteran of the US Army National Guard, said his interactions with other members of the group gave him the impression that the organization was prepared to use force to keep former Republican President of the United States Donald Trump in office after his 2020. electoral defeat.
“I can’t say it was ever overtly encouraged, but it was never discouraged, and when it happened it was celebrated,” Greene said of the Proud Boys’ use of violence.
Greene’s testimony was a key moment in the trial of former Proud Boys leader Henry “Enrique” Tarrio and four other members of the organization – Dominic Pezzola, Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs and Zachary Rehl – who are accused of several crimes including seditious conspiracy.
Greene said Pezzola was praised after a violent incident at a December 2020 rally in Washington, D.C. Pezzola bragged about responding to a Proud Boy member’s apology by hitting the assailant on the head with a motorcycle helmet, Greene said. .
Prosecutors allege that Pezzola was among the first rioters to breach the Capitol building after breaking a window with a stolen police shield.
The lawyers for the defendants argued that there was no plan for the Capitol and the leadership of the Proud Boys ordered the members in previous demonstrations to respond only to left-wing counter-protesters as self-defense.
Greene acknowledged that he did not know many of the accused and was not ordered to use force by members of the leadership of the Proud Boys before the riot in the Capitol. He said he was not aware of any storm plans in the building.
He described “rising anger” in the crowd as Proud Boy leaders led the group in chants outside the Capitol.
Rioters later broke through police lines and stormed the building, forcing lawmakers to flee and delaying congressional certification of the 2020 election.
Greene pleaded guilty to conspiracy and obstructing official proceedings in December 2021 for his role in the attack. He has agreed to cooperate with US prosecutors.
(Reporting by Andrew Goudsward; Editing by David Gregorio)
By Andrew Goudsward