By: Donald V. Watkins
Copyrighted and Published on September 6, 2023
An Editorial Opinion
Yesterday, Enrique Tarrio, 39, was sentenced to 22 years in prison for orchestrating a failed plot to keep former president Donald J. Trump in power. Tarrio, who led the far right-wing Proud Boys paramilitary group, received the longest sentence to date among the hundreds of cases connected to the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the National Capitol in Washington, D.C.
As the Proud Boys’ Chairman, Tarrio wielded his influence over his subordinates and allies to “organize and execute the conspiracy to forcibly stop the peaceful democratic transfer of power” as lawmakers convened in Washington to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election, said prosecutors.
The insurrection resulted in five deaths and hundreds of law enforcement officers being injured.
The insurrection was fueled by Donald Trump’s false assertion that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from him. In the nearly three years since Trump lost the election, neither Trump nor his attorneys has produced one shred of evidence showing that outcome-determinative voter fraud cost him the election.
Donald Trump’s false claim never rises above campaign rhetoric. Yet, it is this rhetoric that has imprisoned hundreds of people and ruined the lives of thousands of Trump supporters and their families.
Trump and others are awaiting trial in Washington and Georgia on additional criminal charges arising from the insurrection.
Tarrio Begged for Mercy
Before his sentence was handed down in U.S. District Court in Washington D.C., Tarrio apologized for his actions. He called the Capitol riot a “national embarrassment” and vowed that his days of meddling in politics are over.
Tarrio also denounced his false claim that the election was “stolen” from Donald Trump by admitting, “My candidate lost.”
Tarrio choked up with emotion as he begged U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly, a Trump-appointee, for mercy.
His admission that Trump lost the election came too late to save him from being hit with the longest prison sentence to date over the Capitol riot.
Other Proud Boys Sentenced to Long Prison Terms
Tarrio was among four members of the group who was convicted of a seditious conspiracy and other crimes earlier this year following a four-month trial.
A jury determined that Tarrio, as the group’s leader, organized and directed a mob towards the U.S. Capitol, where Proud Boys dismantled barricades and broke windows to breach the halls of Congress. Tarrio then bragged about their actions on social media and in group chat messages that were later shared with jurors.
Four other members of the Proud Boys were sentenced last week for their roles in the attack. Ethan Nordean received a sentence of 18 years in prison, tying Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes for what is now the second-longest sentence to date among the hundreds of people convicted in connection with January 6.
Joe Biggs was sentenced to 17 years, Zachary Rehl was sentenced to 15 years, and Dominic Pezzola – the sole co-defendant among them who was not convicted of seditious conspiracy – was sentenced to 10 years.
In the insurrection’s aftermath, Enrique Tarrio wrote on the social media platform Parler that “when the government fears the people, there is liberty,” a post he accompanied with a photo of House members ducking for cover.
Despite their best efforts to overthrow the duly elected United States government on January 6, 2021, Enrique, his Proud Boys, and Oath Keepers allies failed to take down our democracy.
The real oath-keepers in blue police uniforms bled, died and were injured as they held the front line for American democracy that day.
I do not have sympathy for Enrique Tarrio and his army of Donald Trump sycophants, who tried to maintain a defeated candidate in the presidency based upon a lie.
Instead, I have extreme pride for the men and women in blue uniforms at the Capitol who put it all on the line for America in the face of the insurrection.