Ex-Proud Boys leader to stay jailed until Capitol riot trial

The former top leader of the Proud Boys will remain jailed while awaiting trial on charges that he conspired with other members of the far-right extremist group to attack the U.S. Capitol and stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s presidential victory, a federal judge has ruled.

Henry “Enrique” Tarrio poses a danger to the public that cannot be mitigated by home detention and banning him from using social media, U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly said in an order issued late Friday.

Tarrio, a South Florida resident, has been jailed since his arrest on March 8, a day after his indictment on charges including conspiracy. A federal magistrate in Miami previously ordered his pretrial detention.

Tarrio and other Proud Boys leaders used encrypted channels, social media and other electronic communications to plan and carry out a plot to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and interfere with the congressional certification of the Electoral College vote, according to the indictment.

Tarrio asked Kelly to order his release on bond, but the judge rejected the request. Kelly said the evidence against Tarrio is “very strong” despite Tarrio’s argument that authorities essentially do not have “a smoking gun” against him, “perhaps in the form of direct evidence of an order from Tarrio to other Proud Boys to storm the Capitol.”

Tarrio was not in Washington when the insurrection took place. Police had arrested Tarrio in the District of Columbia two days before the riot and charged him with vandalizing a Black Lives Matter banner at a historic Black church during a protest in December 2020. A judge ordered Tarrio to stay out of the nation’s capital.

Before he left Washington, Tarrio met with Oath Keepers founder and leader Elmer “Stewart” Rhodes and others in an underground parking garage for approximately 30 minutes, authorities say. Rhodes and several other members or associates of the anti-government Oath Keepers militia group are charged with seditious conspiracy in the Capitol attack.

A documentary filmmaker recorded part of the garage meeting.

“But not much about the substance of the meeting can be gleaned from the clips — at one point, Tarrio and others motion for the filmmaker to stop,” Kelly noted in his order.

Tarrio claims to have stepped down as Proud Boys’ national chairman.

Five other men linked to the Proud Boys — Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl, Charles Donohoe and Dominic Pezzola — were charged in the same March 7 indictment as Tarrio.

Donohoe, 34, of Kernersville, North Carolina, pleaded guilty in April to conspiracy and assault charges and has agreed to cooperate in the Justice Department’s cases against other Proud Boys members.

Nordean, Biggs, Rehl and Pezzola also remain jailed while awaiting a trial scheduled for August.

Nordean, of Auburn, Washington, was a Proud Boys chapter president. Biggs, of Ormond Beach, Florida, has described himself as a Proud Boys organizer. Rehl was president of the Proud Boys chapter in Philadelphia. The indictment describes Pezzola, of Rochester, New York, as a member of his local Proud Boys chapter.

Tarrio tried to communicate with Nordean and Biggs by telephone while the two men were moving in and out of the Capitol, the indictment says.