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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio received a 22-year prison sentence on Tuesday for his role in planning a failed plot to maintain Donald Trump’s grip on power after the 2020 election loss. This sentence marks the longest penalty imposed in connection with the January 6th U.S. Capitol attack. Tarrio’s sentence comes as the Justice Department prepares to put Trump on trial for his alleged plan to undermine the 2020 election results.

Former Proud Boys’ leader Enrique Tarrio pleads for leniency

Before pronouncing the sentence, Tarrio pleaded for leniency, acknowledging January 6 as a “national embarrassment.” He offered apologies to the Capitol police officers and lawmakers who endured the chaos of that day. Tarrio emphasized that he was not a political zealot and that his intention was not to inflict harm or change the election’s outcome. He requested mercy, highlighting the importance of not losing his 40s.

A Trump Appointed Judge Condemns Tarrio

U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly, appointed by Trump, attributed Tarrio’s actions to “revolutionary zeal”. The judge condemned Tarrio’s role in the conspiracy that led to 200 agitated individuals surrounding the Capitol. The judge emphasized the necessity of a stern punishment to deter future political violence, repeatedly stating, “It can’t happen again.”

In May, the court convicted Tarrio and three of his associates of seditious conspiracy and related offenses. This trial starkly reminded us of the violent chaos fueled by Trump’s false election claims, energizing extremist groups like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers.

The judge agreed with prosecutors, categorizing the crimes committed by the Proud Boys as “terrorism” and consequently recommending a longer sentence under federal guidelines. Nevertheless, the judge ultimately imposed shorter prison terms than what the prosecution had sought.

What Prosecutors Are Seeking

Prosecutors had sought a 33-year prison term for Tarrio, characterizing him as the mastermind behind a violent plot to disrupt American democracy’s core and overturn Joe Biden’s electoral victory. Prosecutor Conor Mulroe highlighted that the Proud Boys came dangerously close to success without employing firearms or explosives, potentially leading to a constitutional crisis.

proud boys
FILE – Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio rallies in Portland, Ore., on Aug. 17, 2019. Tarrio and three other members of the far-right extremist group have been convicted of a plot to attack the U.S. Capitol in a desperate bid to keep Donald Trump in power after Trump lost the 2020 presidential election. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)

Enrique Tarrio’s Role in January 6 United States Capitol Attack

While Tarrio was not present at the Capitol attack, prosecutors say he organized the Proud Boys’ assault from a distance. They say he motivated his followers through charisma and propaganda.

However, Tarrio’s defense argued that he was unfairly used as a scapegoat for Trump’s actions and denied any organized plan to attack the Capitol.

The Key Evidence Against the former Proud Boys’ leader

The government’s case rested on hundreds of messages exchanged by Proud Boys leading up to January 6, portraying the group as revolutionaries celebrating the Capitol attack. Tarrio’s messages endorsing the attack were pivotal evidence in the case.

Two days before the Capitol riot, authorities arrested Tarrio for defacing a Black Lives Matter banner in the capital. He had complied with a judge’s order to leave the city after his arrest.

What the former Proud Boys leader’s Defense is seeking

Following the sentencing, Tarrio’s defense announced their intention to appeal the verdict. They labeled their client as a “keyboard ninja” who engaged in rhetoric but had no intentions of overthrowing the government. According to attorney Sabino Jauregui, Tarrio’s only objective that day was to protest the election and confront left-wing activists.

Proud Boys’ Convictions

Enrique Tarrio, the last of the Proud Boys leaders convicted of seditious conspiracy, has received his sentence. Previously, the court sentenced three other Proud Boys to prison terms ranging from 15 to 18 years after finding them guilty of this rarely used charge.

The Justice Department is currently appealing the 18-year prison sentence handed down to Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers. Rhodes was also convicted of seditious conspiracy in a separate case. Other Proud Boys recieved lighter sentences. Prosecutors had initially requested 25 years in prison for Rhodes.

Nehemiah D. Frank is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Black Wall Street Times and a descendant of two families that survived the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Although his publication’s store and newsroom...

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