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A thousand defendants and sentences of up to 60 years: the attack on the Capitol is still alive in the courts


The January 6, 2021 case, the largest in Justice Department history, is far from over. These days, the sedition trial of the Proud Boys, accused of leading the assault, is being held in Washington

In many ways, Washington is still not over the hangover from the attack on the Capitol.

Like a good hangover, it's long and sticky, and it bounces back when you least expect it.

For example, last Sunday, two days after the low-intensity commemoration of the second anniversary of the assault on January 6, 2021. The images arrived from Brasilia, where thousands of supporters of a former president, Jair Bolsonaro, so resistant to defeat like Donald Trump, revived the memories of those in the United States who lived through that black day for democracy.

In the city courts, however, they do not need anyone to jog their memory.

All proceedings in the "most important case the Department of Justice has embarked on in its history," in Attorney General Merrick Garland's description, end up in his federal district court.

According to court records, 940 people have been prosecuted for their actions that day, when the mob, after attending a Trump rally near the White House, stormed Congress.

Encouraged by the still president, the insurgents aspired to stop a hitherto gray democratic process: the certification of Joe Biden's legitimate victory at the polls.

On Wednesday, two high-profile trials collided at the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse.

On the fourth floor, five members of the Proud Boys, the violent far-right group whose members are united, in addition to being men, by their reverence for Trump, were being processed.

The organization's profile grew during the turbulent 2020 on the basis of breaking out across the country, among others, the protests that followed the murder by police of African-American George Floyd.

Richard Barnett, at Nancy Pelosi's desk, on January 6, 2021.

Two floors above, the jury was listening to the first witness, a congressional worker, in the case against Richard


Barnett, who became an icon on January 6 when he photographed himself with his feet on the desk of the then-president's office. of the House of Representatives, Democrat Nancy Pelosi.

Before she left, she left him a note saying, "Hey, Nancy, Bigo was here, bitch" (


, though he maintains in his defense that he wrote the slang variant

biatch) .


He is charged with various crimes, including obstruction of official proceedings, theft of property and breaking into a restricted building with a dangerous weapon.

Specifically, a 950,000 volt stun gun (on sale on Amazon on Friday for about $100, around 92 euros).

The Proud Boys are facing a much more serious crime: “seditious conspiracy”, a charge not used lightly in the United States, but for which Stewart Rhodes, leader of the Oath Keepers militia, was found guilty in November.

He could face up to 60 years in prison, but his case is exceptional: the average sentence in the trials that have been resolved so far with prison sentences is 60 days.

Rhodes met on January 5 in a parking lot with his counterpart at the head of the Proud Boys, Cuban-American Enrique Tarrio.

Both are surely the most prominent figures in the assault on the Capitol.

And that Tarrio was not there.

He followed the attack on television from a Baltimore hotel: police had barred him from setting foot in Washington that day, following an arrest in the city for burning a church's anti-racist Black Lives Matter banner.

Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio during a Black Lives Matter event in Miami on May 25, 2021. Anadolu Agency (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Tarrio listened with apparent detachment Wednesday morning, exchanging quips and half smiles with another of the defendants, Ethan Nordean, sitting next to him, as the judge admitted into evidence video of Trump instructing the Proud Boys during an election debate.

"Back off and stand by," he told them.

Once the adrenaline rush of the attack on the Capitol subsided, Nordean wrote on his social networks: "Fuck you, Trump, you have left us lying, bleeding on the battlefield."

Also on the bench were Zachary Rehl, Joe Biggs, who tweeted "this is war" after learning of Joe Biden's legitimate concession of electoral victory, and Nic Pezzola, who is remembered for images repeated a million times;

They show him at 2:12 p.m. on January 6, breaking one of the windows of the Capitol with the shield taken from a policeman.

Pezzola was the first face in the crowd to desecrate the Congress.

The Prosecutor's Office, as in previous cases, tries to demonstrate that this was not a spontaneous riot, as the defense claims, but an operation planned and led especially by Tarrio and his team, which "targeted directly to the heart" of American democracy.

The case also seeks to prove the crypto-fascist gang's ties to Trump.

Those links, which the defendants deny, take up an entire chapter of the 814-page report released just before Christmas by the bipartisan congressional committee that investigated Jan. 6 and its political implications for 18 months.

In it, its members conclude that "the Proud Boys led the attack, entered the Capitol and took hundreds of people inside."

One of the assailants, with a lectern for then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, on Capitol Hill, on Jan. 6, 2021. Win McNamee (Getty Images)

Beyond the organized insurrection, it is this anonymous mass that is responsible for most of the arrests that still take place throughout the country (and will continue to take place, warn the authorities).

They are the same ones who pile up in the dock of the defendants in the trials held in Washington.

Among the almost 1,000 defendants —for charges that range from minor misdemeanors such as the raid without damaging the Capitol to crimes such as assault or resistance to authority (the day ended with 140 police officers injured, and four committed suicide in the days that followed) or the famous “sedition conspiracy”― there is everything: ex-policemen like Thomas Webster (sentenced in the highest sentence so far to 10 years in prison), a CEO, an air conditioner installer (Kyle Young, seven years old), a nurse , four models (as John Strand,

QAnon shaman

, 41 months) or an Olympic medalist.

For having, there is even a complete family, the Munns: the parents and the three children participated in the events.

The former received sentences of 14 days;

the latter were released on probation.

All five belong to something that could be called the January 6 middle class.

A good number of them probably didn't count on committing any crime when they went to the Trump rally.

And many have blamed before the judge the lies of the former president about electoral fraud for the mess in which they now find themselves.

Others, like Barnett, claim to be victims of "political persecution."

The Munn family, on trial for the assault on the Capitol.



of Pelosi's office, like other defendants, has set up a web page to defend his innocence, and in it he accepts donations to cover legal expenses.

He also asks for money (22,794 dollars he has raised so far, about 21,000 euros) through a conservative affiliate


platform called GiveSendGo, which, according to calculations by

The Washington Post

, has raised more than 3.7 million dollars for the Jan Sixers, as those arrested and prosecuted for the assault on the Capitol like to call themselves.

In Telegram there is an account that provides links to each of these financing channels, and its administrators always start and end the day in the same way.

At night, they invite a collective prayer in memory of the prisoners through a live chat.

In the morning, they usually start the day by sharing a list of the trials that are scheduled in Washington in the following hours.

Last Friday, the list added 24 ongoing processes.

Two days earlier, a federal court worker defined January 6, 2021 as "the longest day of American democracy", in a conversation with EL PAÍS.

A day that, more than two years later, consumes most of the time of officials at the E. Barrett Prettyman courthouse in Washington.

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2023-01-15

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