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Enrique Tarrio gets 22 years behind bars as Proud Boys and Oath Keepers members get stiff sentences for Jan. 6 insurrection

The Proud Boys leader was not in Washington for the riot, but prosecutors alleged he played a central role.

Three members of the far-right Proud Boys, including leader Enrique Tarrio, protest the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Members of the Proud Boys, including leader Enrique Tarrio, center, protest the results of the presidential election in Washington on Nov. 14, 2020. (Hannah McKay/Reuters)

Enrique Tarrio was not in Washington, D.C., as members of the Proud Boys — the far-right organization he commanded — and other supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in the hope of overturning the previous November’s presidential election.

But he was central to planning the violent insurrection, federal prosecutors alleged, charging him with seditious conspiracy as part of a broad effort to punish those who stormed the Capitol as a stunned nation watched on live television.

A jury agreed — and so did U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly of Washington, D.C., sentencing Tarrio on Tuesday to 22 years in federal prison. It was the longest Jan. 6-related sentence yet, though 11 years less than what prosecutors sought. The length of the sentence appeared to be a clear message that those responsible for the riot will not escape consequences.

“Justice has been served,” wrote Olivia Troye, a former aide to ex-Vice President Mike Pence, on the platform formerly known as Twitter and now called X.

Read more from Yahoo News: The Proud Boys Are Paying for Jan. 6. Are Trump and His Cronies Next? via Rolling Stone

‘We did this’

An image of a noose hanging near the Capitol on January 6, 2021, is displayed on a screen during a hearing of the January 6 committee.
An image of a noose hanging near the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, is displayed on a screen during a hearing of the Jan. 6 committee investigating the Capitol riot, June 16, 2022. (Tom Brenner/Pool via Reuters)

A 39-year-old Miami native of Cuban descent, Tarrio first became involved with the Proud Boys in 2017. During the Trump administration, the Proud Boys were one of several right-wing groups that routinely engaged in violent clashes with anarchists and anti-fascists, including during the tumultuous summer of 2020.

After Trump lost the 2020 election, Tarrio and the Proud Boys descended on Washington in a kind of small-scale preview of Jan. 6. Tarrio burned a Black Lives Matter flag and, as a result, was banned from entering the District of Columbia. (He pleaded guilty to charges of destruction of property later.)

Despite the ban, Tarrio returned to Washington to plan an assault on the Capitol that was to coincide with then-Vice President Mike Pence’s procedural certification of the presidential election’s results. A documentary crew recorded Tarrio meeting with Stewart Rhodes of the Oath Keepers in a parking garage on Jan. 5 to plan the assault.

Though he was subsequently made to leave the capital, Tarrio gloated about the attack. Nothing may have been as damaging as three words of a social media post: “We did this.”

Read more from Yahoo News: ‘F*cking Idiot’ Proud Boy Does a 180 After Judge Shows Little Mercy, via the Daily Beast

Yale Law grad lands in federal prison

Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, dressed in camouflage, uses a walkie-talkie as he departs from a Trump rally.
Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes departs from a rally held by then-President Donald Trump in Minneapolis in October 2019. (Jim Urquhart/Reuters)

A graduate of Yale Law School, Rhodes founded the Oath Keepers in 2009, recruiting heavily from among military veterans and members of law enforcement. Like the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers were central to the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

Charged with seditious conspiracy, Rhodes argued that while he may have fanned the flames of election denialism, he had nothing to do with the violence itself, which left several people dead.

“I think it was stupid to go into the Capitol. It was not our mission,” he said during his trial. The argument was unpersuasive, and Rhodes was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Read more from Yahoo News: Oath Keepers convicted in Jan. 6 Capitol riot get prison in latest extremist sentencings, via the Associated Press

Hundreds sent to prison

Members of the January 6 committee hold their final public meeting. Behind them is a large screen displaying the words: Trump knew he lost.
Members of the Jan. 6 committee hold their final public meeting on Capitol Hill on Dec. 19, 2022. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Of the more than 1,000 people who have been charged in relation to the Jan. 6 riot, nearly 400 had been sentenced to prison as of last month. Among them are top Tarrio deputies Ethan Nordean (18 years), Dominic Pezzola (10 years) and Joshua Pruitt (four and a half years), as well as several members of the Oath Keepers.

As she was being sentenced in May, military veteran Jessica Watkins seemed to express regret for her participation in the riot: “I was just another idiot running around the Capitol,” she said as a judge handed down an eight-and-a-half-year sentence.

Trump has also been indicted for his role in the riot.

Read more from Yahoo News: Trump Jan. 6 case: Legal experts break down our FAQs