Proud Boys Leader Sentenced To 'Stand Back And Stand By' For 22 Years
Proud Boy leader Enrique Tarrio, who did 16 months in federal prison in 2013 for rebranding and reselling stolen diabetes test strips, will be spending another 264 months behind federal bars for his part in leading the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Tarrio was sentenced this afternoon to 22 years in prison by District Court Judge Timothy J. Kelly, who read aloud the seditious conspiracy law before passing sentence, telling the defendant and spectators in court that Tarrio had been the “ultimate leader of the conspiracy” among Proud Boys to invade and damage the Capitol, emphasizing that he had “been motivated by revolutionary zeal.”
FBI Director Christopher Ray, appointed to his post by Trump, told a congressional hearing on September 17, 2020, that right wing extremists had been responsible for most of the domestic terrorist attacks in recent years. Two weeks later, at a presidential campaign debate with Democrat Joe Biden, Trump refused to condemn white supremacist groups and the role they had played in political violence in America, telling debate host Chris Wallace, “Almost everything I see is from the left wing, not from the right wing.” When Biden brought up the name of the Proud Boys as one of the groups responsible for right-wing violence, Trump said, “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by. But I’ll tell you what, I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem.”
Tarrio apparently took Trump’s challenge seriously: “Standing by sir,” he responded almost immediately on the right-wing social media site Parler.
Tarrio’s sentence of 22 years is the longest prison term yet handed down to January 6 defendants. The next longest sentence was 18 years, given to Tarrio’s fellow Proud Boy Ethan Nordean last week, and 18 years given to Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes for his role in leading his group to storm the Capitol in a so-called stack formation on January 6.
Judge Kelly noted that Tarrio had yet to show remorse for his actions on January 6. Like another leader of the insurrection that day, Donald Trump, Tarrio was not present at the Capitol. He had been arrested two days earlier and banned from entering the borders of the nation’s capital for burning a Black Lives Matter flag at a Washington black church and for possessing two high-capacity AR-15 magazines that had Proud Boys logos on their sides.
Conor Mulroe, a prosecutor at the sentencing hearing, told the judge that Tarrio had been responsible for organizing the Proud Boy assault on the Capitol, which they launched “with a tidal force.” Mulroe continued, “His leadership over the Proud Boys was about violence and manipulation. He demonized his perceived adversaries. He glorified the use of force against them. He elevated the street fighting element in his group — the so-called rally boys — and he practiced and endorsed the use of disinformation, deceiving the public and cultivating fear.”
Testimony at his trial had showed that Tarrio sent out a tweet to his Proud Boy followers at 2:38 p.m. on January 6, the very moment the Capitol was being breached, encouraging them not to leave the Capitol. Later that day, after the Capitol had been cleared, Tarrio tweeted, “We did this.”
But on Tuesday afternoon, Tarrio took a different stance with the judge. “I am profusely sorry,” he said. “What happened on January 6 was a national embarrassment.” To excuse his behavior that day, Tarrio tried to explain that he couldn’t believe that “my candidate lost.”
“I am not a political zealot,” Tarrio said in court, wearing an orange prison jumpsuit rather than the all-black outfit, mirrored sunglasses, and camo bulletproof vest he had been photographed wearing on January 4 at the demonstration where he was arrested for burning the Black Lives Matter flag.
Enrique Tarrio isn’t going to have another opportunity to strap on his mock-combat costume for a long, long time: 22 years, to be exact.
Boo fucking hoo, Proud Boys. That’s what you get: Orange jumpsuits for following your orange-haired idol.
Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.
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