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

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

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

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has suspended indoor dining at restaurants and pubs until at least April 19 in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. sets new COVID-19 daily record with 1,293 cases Thursday

New order allows workplace closures when infections found

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

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Most Read