Prosecutors are pushing for lengthy prison sentences of 33 years for former Proud Boys chair Enrique Tarrio and his associate Joe Biggs, citing their alleged involvement in fomenting the January 6th attack on the Capitol with the intention of keeping former President Donald Trump in power. These proposed sentences would be almost double the longest sentence given so far for January 6th-related charges.
The prosecution’s sentencing memo argues that Tarrio and Biggs played a pivotal role in stoking and exacerbating the violence during the Capitol attack. The memo states that the defendants understood the gravity of their actions and aimed to bring about a “revolution,” using force to exert their political will on elected officials and overturn the results of a democratic election.
According to the memo, “The defendants understood the stakes, and they embraced their role in bringing about a ‘revolution.’ They unleashed a force on the Capitol that was calculated to exert their political will on elected officials by force and to undo the results of a democratic election. The foot soldiers of the right aimed to keep their leader in power. They failed. They are not heroes; they are criminals.”
Both Tarrio and Biggs were convicted of seditious conspiracy in May, alongside other Proud Boys leaders Zachary Rehl and Ethan Nordean. Prosecutors are also seeking substantial sentences for Rehl (30 years) and Nordean (27 years). Another Proud Boys member, Dominic Pezzola, who was acquitted of seditious conspiracy but convicted of other charges, faces a potential 20-year sentence.
Prosecutors have emphasized the trauma inflicted on Congress members and police officers during the attack and argue that the actions of the defendants should be considered “terrorism,” which would lead to enhanced sentences. They described the attack as an assault on democracy itself, asserting that political violence exists within the United States as well.
The sentencing recommendations now await U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly’s decision. The judge presided over the trial of Proud Boys leaders and will weigh the prosecution’s argument against the defense’s assertion that their actions were protected by the First Amendment.
Defense lawyers for Nordean, Biggs, and Rehl are requesting sentences ranging from one to three years, as they believe the case relies primarily on private messages protected by the First Amendment. In contrast, prosecutors contend that the group’s actions were calculated and sinister, pointing to their role in orchestrating and participating in the assault on the Capitol.
The case sheds light on the controversial role played by extremist groups like the Proud Boys in the events of January 6th and raises questions about the legal boundaries of free speech when it comes to inciting violence and sedition. The proposed sentences highlight the seriousness with which the government views the actions of these individuals and their potential consequences for the nation.
As the sentencing decision awaits, the case’s outcome could have significant implications for future cases involving individuals involved in the January 6th attack and extremist groups’ roles in such events.