Written by Hudson Crozier
What happened: Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, former leader of the right-wing Proud Boys, received the longest prison sentence yet related to the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot: 22 years.
Why it matters: Though he wasn’t at the Capitol that day, jurors convicted Tarrio of seditious conspiracy — a charge given to Islamic terrorists — and other crimes for organizing the riot, per his provocative chat messages and social media posts. With a partisan government determined to make an example of him, Tarrio’s fate was set from the beginning, regardless of the evidence.
- Infiltration: The FBI put at least eight informants in the Proud Boys before the protest, two of whom breached the Capitol with them. The full extent of the government’s involvement is unknown.
Political trial: One of the government's own informants testified that the violence at the Capitol was random, not part of an elaborate conspiracy. That didn’t matter to D.C. jurors, who are overwhelmingly hostile to January 6 defendants. Prosecutors seized on the politics of the trial by repeatedly playing a clip of former President Donald Trump and calling the Proud Boys “Trump’s army.”
- One-sided: Judge Timothy Kelly also allowed prosecutors to conceal troves of evidence from the defense as long as they claimed it was “classified.”
The new war on terror: Kelly, who had already detained Tarrio for nine months without a trial, added a “terrorism” enhancement to his final punishment. This gave Tarrio a longer sentence than people who have plotted to bomb buildings or provided support to Al Qaeda and ISIS.