Former chairman of the Proud Boys Enrique Tarrio has been sentenced to 22 years in prison on Tuesday for his supposed role in organizing a plot to overthrow the United States government on Jan. 6, 2021. The ruling comes as federal authorities continue to round up people who were present at the U.S. Capitol building on that day.
Former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was sentenced Tuesday to 22 years in prison for orchestrating a failed plot to keep Donald Trump in power after the Republican lost the 2020 election, capping the case with the stiffest punishment that has been handed down yet for the U.S. Capitol attack.
Tarrio, 39, pleaded for leniency before the judge imposed the prison term topping the 18-year sentences given to Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and one-time Proud Boys leader Ethan Nordean after juries convicted them of seditious conspiracy and other charges.
Before his sentence was handed down, Tarrio asked for mercy, explaining that “inflicting harm or changing the results of the election” was not his objective.
Rising to speak before the sentence was handed down, Tarrio called Jan. 6 a “national embarrassment,” and apologized to the police officers who defended the Capitol and the lawmakers who fled in fear. His voice cracked as he said he let down his family and vowed that he is done with politics.
“I am not a political zealot. Inflicting harm or changing the results of the election was not my goal,” Tarrio said. “Please show me mercy,” he said, adding, “I ask you that you not take my 40s from me.”
U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly, who was appointed to the bench by Trump, said Tarrio was motivated by “revolutionary zeal” to lead the conspiracy that resulted in “200 men, amped up for battle, encircling the Capitol.” Noting that Tarrio had not previously shown any remorse publicly for his crimes, the judge said a stiff punishment was necessary to deter future political violence.
“It can’t happen again. It can’t happen again,” the judge repeated.
The Proud Boys are a right-wing organization founded in 2016 by Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes. It describes itself as a pro-Western fraternal organization that touts the values of the West in building the modern world. Its members have frequently clashed with Antifa operatives at various protests. The organization has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has been accused on several occasions of falsely smearing right-leaning entities as “hate groups.”
During Tarrio’s trial, prosecutors displayed hundreds of messages sent among members of the Proud Boys in the leadup to the riot. One of the messages used to convict him said, “Do what must be done,” which was used to convince a jury that he incited the violence at the Capitol building.
Tarrio’s defense argued that the former Proud Boys leader was being used as a scapegoat for former President Donald Trump. They described Tarrio as a “misguided patriot.” Nevertheless, he was labeled as a terrorist. His sentence was reduced from the prosecution’s original request, which would have seen Tarrio behind bars for over 30 years.
He has received the longest sentence so far among those being prosecuted for the Jan. 6 riot.