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Far-right Proud Boys leader charged in US Capitol attack, Texas man convicted

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Henry ‘Enrique’ Tarrio, the former ‘national chairman’ of the Proud Boys, is the second top leader of a right-wing militant group to be arrested since the start of the year in connection with the January 6, 2021 attack on Congress by a pro-Trump mob. AFP

Far-right Proud Boys leader charged in US Capitol attack, Texas man convicted

A leader of the far-right Proud Boys group was arrested on Tuesday for his role in the storming of the US Capitol and a Texas man was found guilty of all charges in the first trial stemming from the attack on Congress by supporters of Donald Trump.

Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, 38, was arrested in Miami and indicted on conspiracy and other charges, the Justice Department said.

Tarrio, the former “national chairman” of the Proud Boys, is the second top leader of a right-wing militant group to be arrested since the start of the year in connection with the January 6, 2021 attack on Congress by a pro-Trump mob.

Stewart Rhodes, 56, founder of the Oath Keepers, has been charged with seditious conspiracy along with 10 other members of the anti-government group – the most serious of the charges filed so far in the sprawling investigation of the storming of the Capitol.

Tarrio, who was not in Washington the day of the attack, was charged with conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of law enforcement, destruction of government property and other offenses.

Five other members of the Proud Boys were arrested previously for their involvement in the Capitol riot and have pleaded not guilty.

More than 775 people have been arrested in connection with the attack on Congress and nearly 220 have pleaded guilty to various charges.

The trial of the first Capitol riot defendant to plead not guilty concluded with his swift conviction on all charges on Tuesday.

A jury found Guy Reffitt, 49, guilty of bringing a gun to Washington, interfering with police and impeding an official proceeding – the certification by Congress of Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the November 2020 presidential election.

Reffitt, a member of a right-wing militia group called the Texas Three Percenters, was also found guilty of threatening his teenaged son and daughter if they spoke to law enforcement about his involvement in the attack on the Capitol.

Reffitt’s then 18-year-old son did go to the FBI despite his father’s warning that “traitors get shot” and delivered emotional testimony against his father in court.

The case against Reffitt, an oil industry worker from Wylie, Texas, was closely watched for its potential bearing on future prosecutions of other Capitol riot defendants.

The 12-person jury deliberated for just a few hours before finding Reffitt guilty of all five charges against him.

Video of Reffitt confronting police on the steps of the Capitol and urging on the pro-Trump crowd was played repeatedly for the jury during four days of testimony in a federal court in Washington.

“Guy Reffitt lit the fire of the very first group of rioters that breached the Capitol,” prosecutor Risa Berkower said. “The vigilante mob was ignited by the defendant.

“The election didn’t yield the results he wanted so he took matters into his own hands,” Berkower said.

Reffitt was wearing body armor and a helmet, carrying zip-tie handcuffs and armed with a .40 caliber handgun when he arrived at the Capitol, according to prosecutors.

Reffitt is to be sentenced on June 8. He could face up to 20 years in prison.

The indictment of Tarrio states that while he was not on the scene on January 6, he “led the advance planning and remained in contact with other members of the Proud Boys during their breach of the Capitol.”

Tarrio was arrested on January 4 of last year on a warrant charging him with destruction of property in the burning of a Black Lives Matter banner at a church in Washington.

He was released and ordered to stay out of Washington.

The storming of the Capitol left at least five people dead and 140 police officers injured and followed a fiery speech by Trump to thousands of his supporters near the White House.

Trump was impeached for a historic second time by the House after the Capitol riot – he was charged with inciting an insurrection – but was acquitted by the Senate.

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