The Capitol is seen beyond the base of the Washington Monument before sunrise in Washington, Wednesday, March 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The Capitol is seen beyond the base of the Washington Monument before sunrise in Washington, Wednesday, March 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

4 men linked to Proud Boys charged in plot to attack Capitol

At least 19 leaders or associates of neo-fascist group charged with offences related to the riots

Four men described as leaders of the far-right Proud Boys have been charged in the U.S. Capitol riots, as an indictment ordered unsealed on Friday presents fresh evidence of how federal officials believe group members planned and carried out a co-ordinated attack to stop Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s electoral victory.

So far, at least 19 leaders, members or associates of the neo-fascist Proud Boys have been charged in federal court with offences related to the Jan. 6 riots. The latest indictment suggests the Proud Boys deployed a much larger contingent in Washington, with over 60 users “participating in” an encrypted messaging channel for group members that was created a day before the riots.

The Proud Boys abandoned an earlier channel and created the new “Boots on the Ground” channel after police arrested the group’s top leader, Enrique Tarrio, in Washington. Tarrio was arrested on Jan. 4 and charged with vandalizing a Black Lives Matter banner at a historic Black church during a protest in December. He was ordered to stay out of the District of Columbia.

Tarrio hasn’t been charged in connection with the riots, but the latest indictment refers to him by his title as Proud Boys’ chairman.

Ethan Nordean and Joseph Biggs, two of the four defendants charged in the latest indictment, were arrested several weeks ago on separate but related charges. The new indictment also charges Zachary Rehl and Charles Donohoe.

Nordean, 30, of Auburn, Washington, was a Proud Boys chapter president and member of the group’s national “Elders Council.” Biggs, 37, of Ormond Beach, Florida, is a self-described Proud Boys organizer. Rehl, 35, of Philadelphia, and Donohoe, 33, of North Carolina, serve as presidents of their local Proud Boys chapters, according to the indictment.

Attorneys for the four men didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment Friday.

Proud Boys members, who describe themselves as a politically incorrect men’s club for “Western chauvinists,” have frequently engaged in street fights with antifascist activists at rallies and protests. Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes, who founded the Proud Boys in 2016, sued the Southern Poverty Law Center for labeling it as a hate group.

The Proud Boys met at the Washington Monument around 10 a.m. on Jan. 6 and marched to the Capitol before then-President Donald Trump finished addressing thousands of supporters near the White House.

Around two hours later, just before Congress convened a joint session to certify the election results, a group of Proud Boys followed a crowd of people who breached barriers at a pedestrian entrance to the Capitol grounds, the indictment says. Several Proud Boys also entered the Capitol building itself after the mob smashed windows and forced open doors.

At 3:38 p.m., Donohoe announced on the “Boots on the Ground” channel that he and others were “regrouping with a second force” as some rioters began to leave the Capitol, according to the indictment.

“This was not simply a march. This was an incredible attack on our institutions of government,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason McCullough said during a recent hearing for Nordean’s case.

Prosecutors have said the Proud Boys arranged for members to communicate using specific frequencies on Baofeng radios. The Chinese-made devices can be programmed for use on hundreds of frequencies, making them difficult for outsiders to eavesdrop.

After Tarrio’s arrest, Donohoe expressed concern that their encrypted communications could be “compromised” when police searched the group chairman’s phone, according to the new indictment. In a Jan. 4 post on a newly created channel, Donohoe warned members that they could be “looking at Gang charges” and wrote, “Stop everything immediately,” the indictment says.

“This comes from the top,” he added.

A day before the riots, Biggs posted on the “Boots on the Ground” channel that the group had a “plan” for the night before and the day of the riots, according to the indictment.

In Nordean’s case, a federal judge accused prosecutors of backtracking on their claims that he instructed Proud Boys members to split up into smaller groups and directed a “strategic plan” to breach the Capitol.

“That’s a far cry from what I heard at the hearing today,” U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell said on March 3.

Howell concluded that Nordean was extensively involved in “pre-planning” for the events of Jan. 6 and that he and other Proud Boys “were clearly prepared for a violent confrontation” that day. However, she said evidence that Nordean directed other Proud Boys members to break into the building is “weak to say the least” and ordered him freed from jail before trial.

Michael Kunzelman, The Associated Press

United States

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Quesnel RCMP Detachment is one of seven northern police buildings which can now connect directly to Prince George for daily bail hearings. (Observer File Photo)
Bail hearings going virtual in B.C.’s north

A court pilot project will see virtual courtroom cameras set up in seven RCMP detatchments

FILE – Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have agreed to sign a memorandum on rights and title with B.C. and Ottawa, but elected chiefs are demanding it be called off over lack of consultation. (Thom Barker photo)
Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, Lake Babine Nation get provincial funding for land, title rights

Government says it’s a new, flexible model for future agreements between Canada, B.C. and First Nations.

The property on which a residential school (pictured) that was torn down years ago in Lower Post is to be the location of a cultural centre. (Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre photo)
Lower Post residential school building to be demolished, replaced with cultural centre

Project to be funded by federal and provincial governments, Daylu Dena Council

The Dease Lake Airport is receiving $11-million in upgrades funded by the province, Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine and mining companies. (British Columbia Aviation Council)
Major upgrades coming to Dease Lake Airport

Airport to receive $11-million from the province, regional district and mining companies

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

..
Abbotsford nurse at ‘breaking point’ pleads with public to take COVID-19 seriously

Instagram post urges general population to stay home, wear a mask and get vaccinated

A native-to-B.C. wild queen bee (bombus melanopygus for those in the know) feeds on a periwinkle flower. (Submitted/Sarah Johnson, Native Bee Society of BC)
B.C.’s wild bees need messy gardens to survive

The year-long nesting period makes habitat a primary concern for wild bees

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

FILE – Health-care workers wave to people clapping and yelling thank you to the frontline workers during the 7 p.m.-tribute outside the Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver, B.C. Wednesday, April 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. nurses issue plea for all to follow health orders as hospitalizations spike

Nurses worried about strain COVID-19 is having on hospital capacity, care

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. The University of Victoria says Williams has resigned effective immediately. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
University of Victoria women’s rowing coach resigns by mutual agreement

Lawsuit filed last summer accused Barney Williams of verbal abuse

Former B.C. premier Christy Clark. (Black Press Media files)
Former B.C. premier to testify at money laundering hearing today

Attorney General David Eby has been added to the witness list as well

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. to table budget that’s expected to deal with COVID-19 pandemic and beyond

Robinson released a fiscal update last December that said the impact of the pandemic on B.C.’s economy was uncertain

Most Read