A New York member of the infamous, far-right organization the Proud Boys was criminally charged by federal authorities for alleged participation in the Capitol riot of January 6, 2021, spurred by lies tracing to Donald Trump of a stolen election.
Defendant Aaron Donald Sauer was accused of using what authorities characterized as evident pepper spray against police, and he’s facing four felony charges. The list includes civil disorder; a trespassing charge specified as allegedly perpetrated with a deadly or dangerous weapon; a disorderly conduct charge with the same addendum; and assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers. The range of alleged offenses suggests Sauer could face years in prison if eventually convicted.
Sauer wore tactical gear including a bulletproof vest while participating in the attack, authorities allege, suggesting preparations for serious violence if accurate. “Court documents say that at approximately 2:31 pm, while on the Lower West Terrace, Sauer sprayed a chemical agent, consistent with the pepper spray, toward a line of police officers,” per a federal press release, which also puts him among the rioters who took on the array of metal bike racks originally intended by local police as barricades. The racks were among what participants in the violence eventually used as weapons, both makeshift and prepared, against police.
A large number of individuals tied to the Proud Boys have been criminally charged in connection to the Capitol violence. The group also already came up in the course of criminal proceedings against Trump himself for his attempts after the last presidential election to stay in power despite losing. Prosecutors pointed to Trump’s remarks during a debate before the 2020 presidential election that Proud Boys should “stand back and stand by,” which some quickly took as a call to action for adherents. The federal team challenging Trump used surrounding circumstances and developments to paint Trump’s comments as meaningfully reflective of his ambitions no matter any excuses for those specific remarks.