After six days of deliberation, a jury in Washington, D.C., has convicted four out of five Proud Boy defendants of seditious conspiracy in relation to the Jan. 6 riot at the United States Capitol. This verdict marks a significant moment in the investigation and prosecution of those involved in the Capitol riot.
The men convicted of the rare charge are Enrique Tarrio, the former chairman of the Proud Boys, and other chapter leaders Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, and Zachary Rehl. Dominic Pezzola, a member of the Proud Boys from Rochester, New York, bypassed a conviction on seditious conspiracy for now but was hit with lesser convictions.
The jury agreed that the government has proved the existence of a seditious conspiracy, which carries up to 20 years behind bars. All defendants but Pezzola were also found guilty of conspiracy to obstruct Congress. The jury appears deadlocked on Pezzola for both of the first two counts, but all defendants, including Pezzola, were found guilty of actual obstruction of Congress. Additionally, all five defendants were convicted of obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to prevent Congress or federal officers from discharging duties, interference with law enforcement during a civil disorder, and destruction of government property.
It’s important to note that the only defendant who was accused of violence on January 6 was Pezzola, who apparently used a riot shield that belonged to an officer to break a window pane on the western front of the U.S. Capitol. Pezzola was arrested way back in January of 2021 and had remained in jail since.
Tarrio, who has received the most attention from the mainstream media in this case, was not in Washington, D.C., on the day of the breach. During the trial, the prosecution cited mostly private and some public messages from Tarrio that they said showed the former leader taking credit for the riot. In one message, for example, Tarrio wrote, “Make no mistake … we did this.” The government also brought up a document outlining a Capitol takeover that was sent to Tarrio on Telegram called “1776 Returns.” Tarrio did not directly respond to the sent document, and claims he never even saw it, let alone opened it up.
From jail, Tarrio commented on the speech issue that was a large part of this trial. Tarrio said, “What they’re trying to do, what people are trying to do – and this is in general, I’m speaking in general – is manipulate how we talk to each other in the locker room,” the former Proud Boy leader said in a Twitter Spaces event. “And it’s not fair […] It’s just not right. It’s not the Justice system that you grew up in civics class learning about.”