Four men described as far-right Proud Boys leaders have been charged U.S. Capitol Riot, as an unsealed indictment ordered Friday presents new evidence of how federal officials believe members of the group planned and carried out a coordinated attack to prevent Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s election victory .
Ethan Nordean and Joseph Biggs, two of the four defendants indicted in the latest indictment, were arrested several weeks ago on separate but related charges. The new indictment also charges Zachary Rehl and Charles Donohoe.
Nordean, 30, of Auburn, Wash., Was chairman of the Proud Boys branch and a member of the group’s national Elders Council. Biggs, 37, from Ormond Beach, Fla., Is a self-proclaimed organizer of the Proud Boys. Rehl, 35, of Philadelphia, and Donohoe, 33, of North Carolina, are presidents of their local Proud Boys chapters, according to the indictment.
A lawyer for Biggs declined an Associated Press request for comment. Lawyers for the other three men did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment on Friday.
The riot resulted in the death of five people, including a police officer from the Capitol.
Proud boys arrests
So far, at least 19 officers, members or associates of the Proud Boys have been indicted in federal court with riot related offenses. The latest indictment suggests the Proud Boys deployed a much larger contingent to Washington, with more than 60 users “participating” in an encrypted messaging channel for group members that was set up a day before the riots.
The Proud Boys abandoned an earlier channel and created the new channel “Boots on the Ground” after police arrested the group’s leader, Henry “Enrique” Tarrio.
Tarrio was arrested on January 4 and charged with vandalizing a Black Lives Matter banner at a historic black church during a demonstration in December. He was ordered to stay out of DC.
Tarrio has not been charged in connection with the riots, but the latest indictment refers to him by his title as president of Proud Boys.
Members of the Proud Boys, who describe themselves as “Western chauvinists,” frequently engaged in street fighting with anti-fascist activists at rallies and protests.
The Proud Boys gathered at the Washington Monument at around 10:00 a.m. local time (around 2:00 a.m. GMT) on January 6 and marched to Capitol Hill before then-President Donald Trump finished addressing to thousands of supporters near the White House.
About two hours later, just before Congress called a joint session to certify the election results, a group of Proud Boys followed a crowd of people who broke through barriers at a pedestrian entrance to the Capitol, the act says. accusation. Several Proud Boys also entered the Capitol building itself after crowds smashed windows and forced open doors.
Prosecutors said the Proud Boys arranged for members to communicate using specific frequencies on Baofeng radios. Devices made in China can be programmed to be used on hundreds of frequencies, making them difficult to listen to.
After Tarrio’s arrest, Donohoe expressed concern that their encrypted communications could be “compromised” when police searched the group’s chairman’s phone, according to the new indictment. In a Jan. 4 post to a newly formed channel, Donohoe warned members they could “look into the gang charges” and wrote, “Stop everything immediately,” according to the indictment.
“It comes from the top,” he added.
Boots on the ground
A day before the riots, Biggs posted on “Boots on the Ground” that the group had a “plan” for the night before and the day of the riots, according to the indictment.
In Nordean’s case, a federal judge accused prosecutors of going back on their claims that he ordered members of the Proud Boys to break up into small groups and lead a “strategic plan” to violate the Capitol.
“This is a far cry from what I heard in today’s hearing,” US District Judge Beryl Howell said on March 3.
Howell concluded that Nordean was heavily involved in the “pre-planning” of the events of January 6 and that he and other Proud Boys “were clearly prepared for a violent confrontation” that day. However, she said the evidence that Nordean ordered other members of the Proud Boys to break into the building was “weak to say the least” and ordered him out of prison ahead of his trial.
On Friday, Howell ordered Proud Boys member Christopher Worrell to be held in federal custody pending trial on riot-related charges. Prosecutors said Worrell visited Washington and coordinated with Proud Boys ahead of the siege.
“Wearing tactical gear and armed with a pepper spray gel cartridge marketed as 67 times more potent than hot sauce, Worrell advanced, shielded himself behind a wooden platform and other protesters, and unloaded the freeze on the line of officers, ”prosecutors wrote in a court filing.
Defense attorney John Pierce argued his client was not targeting officers and was only there in crowds to exercise his free speech rights.
“He’s a veteran. He loves his country, ”Pierce said.