HomeTop StoriesEx-Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio 'embarrassed' over Capitol riot conviction

Ex-Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio ’embarrassed’ over Capitol riot conviction

The former leader of the far-right Proud Boys group has said at his sentencing hearing that he is “ashamed” of his role in the U.S. Capitol riot.

An emotional Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, 39, told the court that the January 6, 2021 storming of Congress was “a national disgrace.”

He was convicted of seditious conspiracy in May.

Tarrio was not in Washington during the riot, having been arrested and ordered to leave the city before the unrest.

He watched it unfold from a hotel room in nearby Baltimore.

Prosecutors have demanded a prison sentence of 33 years. The defense asked no more than 15 years.

Before learning about his fate during Tuesday’s hearing, Tarrio apologized to police and Washington DC residents for the riot at the US Capitol.

“I am deeply ashamed and disappointed that they have been inflicted with grief and suffering,” he said. “I’ll have to live with that shame for the rest of my life.”

He also told the court, “I was my own worst enemy.

“My hubris convinced me that I was a victim and unfairly attacked.”

Acknowledging that Donald Trump lost the November 2020 US presidential election, he continued, “I am not a political fanatic. Causing damage or changing the outcome of an election was not my goal.”

In the aftermath of the election, Tarrio and other Proud Boys had posted threatening messages online, warning of violence and unrest if Trump left office.

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That month, Tarrio replied to an online message from current President Joe Biden, writing, “YOU must remember that the American people are at war with YOU. No Trump… No peace. No quarter.”

The Proud Boys and other groups gathered in Washington DC on December 12, 2020 in support of Mr. Trump. They clashed with anti-fascists and counter-demonstrators, and one Proud Boy was stabbed. On that day, Tarrio, who is Afro-Cuban, burned a Black Lives Matter banner taken from an African-American church.

When he tried to return to the national capital in early January, he was arrested for burning banners. He was found with a high-capacity ammunition magazine, which is illegal under the city’s gun laws. He was released on bail and ordered to leave Washington.

During the U.S. Capitol riot, he posted online, “After I watch this, I’ll make a statement about my arrest… But for now, I’m enjoying the show… Do what needs to be done”. He called on the rioters not to leave.

Tarrio was convicted in May of seditious conspiracy, a rarely used law that prohibits the use of force “to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States.”

He was also found guilty of obstruction and conspiracy charges, civil commotion and destruction of government property.

During the trial of Tarrio and four other Proud Boys earlier this year, prosecutors introduced a long list of text messages, social media posts and videos as evidence of a coordinated plot to try to block the certification of the election results.

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Lawyers for the defendants argued that the group was poorly organized, mostly non-violent, and that there was no preconceived plan to storm the building.

Who are the proud boys?

The group was founded in New York City in 2016 by Gavin McInnes, co-founder of Vice, who left the media company to pursue a career as a right-wing commentator and podcaster.

The Proud Boys describe themselves as an all-male drinking club or a “pro-Western fraternal organization”.

But they were immersed in far-right politics from the start and became known for frequent clashes with far-left anti-fascist or antifa activists in cities across the US.

Enrique Tarrio (left) and Joe Biggs at a rally in 2019.

Their profile grew after they were mentioned during a discussion about political violence during a presidential debate in September 2020.

“Proud guys, stand back and stick with it,” Trump said at the time. “I’ll tell you something: someone needs to do something about Antifa and the left, because this is not a right-wing problem.”

Who else has been convicted?

Last week, four other Proud Boys were convicted of their roles in the Capitol riot.

Former US Marines Dominic Pezzola and Zachary Rehl received sentences of 10 and 15 years, respectively.

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Joe Biggs, a U.S. Army veteran who led the Proud Boys contingent to the U.S. Capitol, was sentenced to 17 years in prison, and Ethan Nordean, a Proud Boy leader from Washington State, received an 18-year prison sentence.

The sentences were among the longest given to Capitol rioters.

On Friday, an emotional Pezzola expressed regret for his actions during his sentencing hearing. But once the jail sentence was handed down and the judge had left the room, Pezzola raised a fist and yelled, “Trump won!”

Nordean told the court, “I want to apologize for my lack of leadership that day.

“To anyone I’ve wronged directly or even indirectly, I’m sorry,” he said. He was largely silent as he was sentenced.

Some other Capitol rioters have backtracked on their expressions of remorse. Trump has promised to pardon most or all rioters if he is elected president in 2024.

Tuesday’s hearing is the latest in a series of sentencing hearings for top Proud Boys and Oath Keepers militia leaders.

Overall, more than 1,100 people have been arrested on charges related to the Capitol riot, resulting in 630 guilty pleas and more than 110 convictions. Nearly 500 suspects have been sentenced to prison or house arrest.

Charges against the rioters ranged from relatively minor crimes such as entering a restricted area to destruction of government property, assault and conspiracy. About 200 have pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges.

The investigation is still ongoing; the FBI is still trying to locate 14 rioters who were caught on video assaulting police officers or members of the media.

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