On Tuesday, former Proud Boys Chairman Enrique Tarrio received a 22-year prison sentence for his involvement in seditious conspiracy and his role in a failed attempt to obstruct the transfer of power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden.
District Judge Timothy Kelly delivered the longest sentence related to the January 6, 2021, US Capitol attack.
Tarrio, donning an orange jumpsuit and slip-on sneakers, stood at the front of a packed courtroom, bowing his head as the judge pronounced the lengthy sentence. Three other leaders of the Proud Boys were also convicted of seditious conspiracy and sentenced the previous week.
Judge Kelly emphasized the significance of the peaceful transfer of power, stating, “It is kind of hard to put into words how important the peaceful transfer of power is. Our country was founded as an experiment in self-government by the people, but it cannot long endure if the way we elect our leaders is threatened with force and violence.”
He characterized Tarrio as the chief organizer, driven by revolutionary fervor, and noted his lack of remorse.
The judge added, “What happened that day did not honor the founders, it was the kind of thing they wrote the Constitution to prevent.”
Outside the courthouse, Tarrio’s attorney, Nayib Hassan, stated they respectfully disagreed with the judge’s decision and mentioned the possibility of pursuing the appellate process.
Although Tarrio had been arrested in Washington, DC, days prior to the riot for burning a Black Lives Matter banner and possessing high-capacity rifle magazines, a judge had ordered him to leave the city. However, Judge Kelly argued that while Tarrio may not have been physically present at the Capitol during the attack, his influence significantly impacted the events of the day.
Notably, the Justice Department had sought a 33-year prison sentence for Tarrio, but Judge Kelly consistently issued sentences lower than the department’s requests for other Proud Boys members involved in the case.
Before receiving his sentence, Tarrio expressed his apologies for the pain and suffering inflicted on law enforcement, lawmakers, and others on January 6. He vowed to distance himself from politics, groups, activism, or rallies, acknowledging his previous moral shortcomings.
“I have always tried to hold myself to a higher standard and I failed,” he said. “I held myself morally above others, and this trial has shown me how wrong I was.”
Tarrio said that he “spent the last year and a half trying to figure out how I ended up at this podium. On November 3, 2020, something that I never expected happened – my candidate lost. I felt like something was personally stolen from me. Every media channel that I turned to told me I was justified.”
Tarrio explained his emotional journey since November 3, 2020, when his preferred candidate lost, stating that he felt something had been taken from him. However, he stressed that
Prosecutor Conor Mulroe strongly criticized Tarrio, describing him as having a “toxic ability to control others” and as the leader of the conspiracy that targeted the entire government system. Mulroe argued that Tarrio fueled political violence and sought fame through violence.
“These are men who would never strap a bomb to their chest or sign up for a training camp, but they are thrilled by the notion of traveling from city to city and beating their advisories senseless in a street fight,” Mulroe said.
Tarrio’s lawyer, Sabino Jauregui, vehemently opposed additional terrorism-related penalties, asserting that his client did not intend to overthrow the US government. Jauregui emphasized that Tarrio considered himself a misguided patriot and not a terrorist, believing he was attempting to save the country.
“My client is no terrorist,” Jauregui said. “My client is a misguided patriot. That’s what my client is. This is not some foreign national waging war against the United States – he thought he was saving this country, saving this republic.”
During the trial, prosecutors presented evidence showing that Tarrio played a role in establishing a command structure within the Proud Boys leading up to January 6, outlining how members would operate during high-profile rallies. Although not physically present in DC on January 6, Tarrio expressed support for the rioters online and maintained communication with his co-defendants on the scene.