Proud Boys Indictment Charges Attempt to Overthrow Government. Does it Matter?Roundup
tags: far right, White Supremacy, insurrection, Capitol Riots, January 6 Commission
Heather Cox Richardson is Professor of History at Boston College and author most recently of How the South Won the Civil War: Oligarchy, Democracy, and the Continuing Fight for the Soul of America.
Today the Justice Department filed a superseding indictment charging Proud Boys leader Henry “Enrique” Tarrio and four colleagues with up to ten criminal counts, including seditious conspiracy and conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, in relation to the January 6 insurrection. Sedition is the crime of inciting a revolt against the government, and conspiracy means there was an organized group of people with a plan.
A grand jury indicted Tarrio and Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl, and Dominic Pezzola, all of whom had already been charged with crimes; this filing adds to those charges. The indictment says that the five men “did knowingly conspire, confederate, and agree, with other persons known and unknown to the Grand Jury, to oppose by force the authority of the Government of the United States and by force to prevent, hinder, and delay the execution of any law of the United States…. The purpose of the conspiracy was to oppose the lawful transfer of presidential power by force.”
The DOJ is acknowledging that the insurrectionists were trying to overthrow the government. As retired Harvard law professor Lawrence Tribe tweeted, “Seditious conspiracy is huge. No more serious federal crime short of treason.”
The indictment alleges these Proud Boys members used their social media platform as leaders of the gang to stir up anger about the election. “It’s time for f**king War if they steal this s**t,” Biggs wrote, referring to the presidential election. Nordean posted on social media: “We tried playing nice and by the rules, now you will deal with the monster you created. The spirit of 1776 has resurfaced and has created groups like the Proudboys and we will not be extinguished. We will grow like the flame that fuels us and spread like love that guides us. We are unstoppable, unrelenting and now…unforgiving. Good luck to all you traitors of this country we so deeply love…you’re going to need it.” Rehl posted: “Hopefully the firing squads are for the traitors that are trying to steal the election from the American people.”
They urged others to join the insurrection, raised money for their trip to Washington, D.C., bought paramilitary equipment, met secretly and used encrypted communications, hid their gang colors to appear incognito, led the crowd to the Capitol, stormed the barricades, destroyed property, and assaulted law enforcement officers, all to prevent Joe Biden from becoming president.
This indictment mirrors that of January 13, 2022, when the Department of Justice indicted the leader of the Oath Keepers, Elmer Stewart Rhodes III, and 10 other members of the group, a far-right antigovernment militia that specializes in recruiting veterans, for a number of crimes including seditious conspiracy in relation to the January 6 insurrection.
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