Guilty as Hell

Proud Boys leader and other members were convicted of seditious conspiracy.

This week a jury found Enrique Tarrio, the current leader of the Proud Boys, and three other group members guilty of sedition. Put together with earlier sedition convictions and guilty pleas from the Oath Keepers trial last year, and federal prosecutors have now successfully prosecuted 14 defendants for seditious conspiracy.

I know that many are unhappy with Merrick Garland for not yet charging Trump with any crimes, but there’s no doubt that Garland’s strategy for prosecuting the insurrectionist foot soldiers is a success. The DOJ’s record of guilty pleas and convictions is impressive. Recall that nearly all these folks simply exited the building after the riot. Garland promised to bring them to justice, which felt highly unlikely then. But Garland was a man of his word.

Defendants aren’t often charged with seditious conspiracy, and prosecutors who do bring the charge rarely succeed. This piece from Vox does an excellent job of breaking down why. From a historical perspective, I highly recommend Rachel Maddow’s Ultra podcast, which recaps two different sedition trials throughout the series. The bar for convictions was high, and it’s impressive that the DOJ has stuck the landing 14 times.

I believe these convictions are the main reason we hadn’t seen any other organized coup attempts or attempts at creating civil unrest when Trump was indicted. Groups like the Proud Boys and Oath keepers have been drained of resources and exposed. Individuals now realize there’s a cost to creating violence and unrest. I often wonder how many people who left the building on January 6 even considered that they might be prosecuted. Since so many of them documented their criminal activity and posted it online, I suspect that not too many of them had.

Background Reading: Roger Stone And His Network Must Face Justice If We Want To Avoid Another January 6

Tasha Adams, ex-wife of convinced Oath Keepers leader Elmer Stewart Rhodes, said after his conviction last year: “This is the first time he’s ever faced consequences ― ever. Really, it’s the first time he’s ever been held accountable for anything he’s ever done.”

Speaking of Trump and indictments, I still hope he’ll face charges for attempting a coup. As I edited this piece, news broke that 8 of the GOP’s fake electors in Georgia have reached an immunity deal with the Fulton County DA’s office. This doesn’t mean that Trump will face charges, but it certainly feels like a step in the right direction. Two years ago, it seemed impossible for Trump to ever face prosecution for his crimes. Now I’d be surprised if Trump wasn’t indicted at least once more this year.

Mostly I’m just glad that, once again, a jury of American citizens has found insurrectionists guilty. America, well, let’s be honest white America, hasn’t always taken the threat of far-right violence and terror seriously. The first time a government official tried to warn us about it in 2009, the report was retracted after political backlash. Even in the first years of Trump’s presidency, plenty of people, no matter what their political beliefs, were more than happy to pretend the threat didn’t exist or was, at best, overstated. We’ve come such a long way in such a short time.

I’ve long believed that most Americans disagree with the far-right’s vision for America and do think it should be a crime to attempt a violent overthrow of our government. It’s always nice to get confirmation, though.

This is an excerpt from the newsletter Ctrl Alt-Right DeleteIt was republished with the author’s permission. Subscribe HERE.

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Melissa Ryan

Melissa Ryan Ctrl is the author of Alt-Right Delete, a newsletter devoted to covering the rise of far-right extremism, white nationalism disinformation, and online toxicity, delivered on a weekly basis to more than 16,000 subscribers. Her writing has appeared in publications such as The Progressive, Buzzfeed News, Refinery29, NowThis, and Media Matters.

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