Nearly all of the members of the extremist group the Proud Boys who were indicted by federal authorities this week for seditious conspiracy related to the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol are veterans, according to court documents and military service records. The indicted men include an Army combat veteran with a Purple Heart, two Marines who served in the infantry and logistics, and a sailor recruit who couldn’t cut it in boot camp.
The only non-veteran of the group was Enrique Tarrio, the former chairman of the Proud Boys, which formed in 2016 and played a key role in the violence in Washington last year. The Proud Boys’ veteran status and alleged roles in the planning of the January 6th insurrection raise new questions about the connection between military service and extremist activity following similar sedition charges in January against the Oath Keepers and its founder Stewart Rhodes, an Army veteran and former paratrooper. Authorities say the Oath Keepers created a military-style “quick reaction force” to violently oppose the transition of power to President Joe Biden after he won the 2020 election.
Tarrio wasn’t at the Capitol on January 6th, but the four other men charged with him led the hundreds of pro-Trump rioters who gathered to disrupt Congress from certifying the presidential election that day. They were the first to push past police barricades and the first to break windows in the Capitol as part of the seven-hour siege that killed Officer Brian Sicknick and left 114 police officers injured, causing $1.5 million in damages, according to the indictment.
Newly charged with *seditious* conspiracy…. the accused Proud Boys defendants are scheduled to return to court tomorrow in the highest-level of the Capitol riot cases pic.twitter.com/1KaQ4amLEx
— Scott MacFarlane (@MacFarlaneNews) June 8, 2022
Monday’s indictment of the Proud Boys alleges the men were also key in raising money, recruiting volunteers, and making plans to attack the Capitol. Although there is no reference to any of the men directly employing their military training, experts have said that veterans — even those with minimal experience — are valuable to extremist groups, according to Military.com.
"I think RICO is probably going to be the best tool against these types of organizations, because whether it's… the Proud Boys or the Oath Keepers, almost every single one of these organizations… there's money being exchanged" – @KrisGoldsmith85 w/ @NicolleDWallace pic.twitter.com/Yahllxscdt
— Deadline White House (@DeadlineWH) June 7, 2022