Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, the former chair and leader of the Proud Boys, a far right, white nationalist organization, was sentenced on Tuesday to 22 years in federal prison for his involvement in the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Tarrio was convicted in May of seditious conspiracy for his role in the attack, trying to keep former President Donald Trump in power beyond his single term in office, in spite of Trump losing the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden.
Although Tarrio wasn’t at the Capitol in person during the attack, prosecutors noted that he acted as “a general” to other Proud Boys members who were engaging in direct violence there, in an effort to disrupt the congressional proceedings that were taking place that day to certify the presidential election results. Tarrio also proudly took direct credit for his organization’s violent actions.
“No organization put more boots on the ground at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, than the Proud Boys, and they were at the forefront of every major breach of the Capitol’s defenses, leading the on-the-ground efforts to storm the seat of government,” U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Matt Graves said in a statement.
Prosecutors noted that Tarrio, whom they described as “a savvy propagandist and the celebrity Chairman of the national Proud Boys organization,” showed no remorse during his trial earlier this year. When asked whether he wanted to denounce anything that happened on January 6, Tarrio reportedly responded by saying, “denounce this, dick.”
Prosecutors also called for a terrorism enhancement to Tarrio’s sentence, which the judge agreed to apply, although he issued a lesser sentence than the lengthier sentence of 33 years requested.
Nevertheless, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland lauded the sentence that Tarrio did receive – the longest yet handed down to anyone involved in the January 6 attack.
“Today, the leader of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, learned that the consequence of conspiring to oppose by force the lawful transfer of presidential power is 22 years in federal prison,” Garland said.
Tarrio and the Proud Boys have been ardent supporters of Trump, especially after the former president mentioned them during the 2020 presidential debate. When asked by a moderator whether he denounced white supremacist groups, Trump asked for a specific example, and was asked what he’d say to the Proud Boys.
Trump’s response, rather than a condemnation, was to tell the group to “stand back and stand by,” which many interpreted as a coded message to the organization that he supported them. And it was interpreted as such by Tarrio and the Proud Boys themselves, who used Trump’s words for a recruitment campaign.
Evidence presented at the trials of Proud Boys also showcased how Trump’s campaign team asked the group to attend “Stop the Steal” rallies, after the 2020 election was called for Biden, in plainclothes, rather than in their typical black and yellow colors. Communications between the two entities also indicated that Tarrio was aware, in the days leading up to January 6, that the event could erupt into violence.
“Whatever happens … make it a spectacle,” Tarrio said to other Proud Boys members in a message just two days before the Capitol attack.
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