Seditious Conspiracy Trial Against ‘Proud Boys’ Moves Forward

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A Capitol riot trial against five individuals involved with the far-right extremist group the Proud Boys is slated to see opening statements on Tuesday after the conclusion of jury selection, as outlined in a new report from The Wall Street Journal.

The group on trial includes former national leader Enrique Tarrio, who with the others is accused of seditious conspiracy in connection to allegations of planning ahead of the riot for violence and coordinating the day of the attack among participants. It’s the third Capitol riot trial planned on seditious conspiracy charges. The only other to so far conclude saw two defendants, including Oath Keepers founder and leader Stewart Rhodes, convicted of the offense, which carries up to 20 years in prison. The Journal notes that defendants in this case earlier tried unsuccessfully to move their case out of federal court in D.C. Like arguments others facing charges in connection to the riot already used, they pointed to allegedly entrenched bias among local residents that could affect jury selection. The argument has rarely — if ever — worked for riot defendants.

Another of those going on trial for seditious conspiracy is Dominic Pezzola, who smashed a window into the Capitol with a riot shield he stole from police. Also included is Joseph Biggs, who was standing by as one of the first physical altercations of the day’s chaos, between rioter Ryan Samsel and police, took place. Samsel previously alleged to federal investigators that Biggs pushed him to violence. Samsel told the FBI Biggs “encouraged him to push at the barricades and that when he hesitated, the Proud Boys leader flashed a gun, questioned his manhood and repeated his request,” according to The New York Times. Biggs predictably denied the allegations. Samsel also told the FBI that an individual who was apparently Ray Epps, who right-wingers have used for conspiracy theories alleging instigation by a federal informant or agent, was actually trying to calm tensions.

At the upcoming trial, the Journal notes that among those expected to provide testimony is Charles Donohoe, who has a history of involvement with the group and pleaded guilty to the sedition offense. Elsewhere, a trial for Capitol rioter Richard Barnett, who was photographed during the Capitol riot with his feet on a desk in an office for Nancy Pelosi, will also soon be starting. His defense has contested the accusation he is guilty of obstruction of an official proceeding, since the Congressional session was already halted before he went inside of the building — although his participation in the mob outside and later presence inside helped establish the threat and then keep Congress from returning to work for hours.

Image: Anthony Crider/ Creative Commons