In the months leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, members of the Proud Boys took to Parler, the far-right alternative social media platform, to espouse frustrations over what they perceived to be a stolen election and to plan to take action.
The Parler posts were presented as evidence this week in federal court where five Proud Boys, including longtime national chairman Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, face trial for sedition and other charges tied to the riot.
Prosecutors are using the posts to show the defendants intended to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election. But in cross-examination of the witness who presented the Parler evidence, Proud Boy Joseph Biggs’ attorney, Norm Pattis, argued that the messages show no such thing.
“(You have) no idea whether it was hyperbole or reflects an intent to commit violence,” Pattis said of one of the messages.
Here’s what we know about the Proud Boys’ Parler messages ahead of Jan. 6, 2021.
Proud Boys discussed ‘stolen’ election
While votes were still being counted in the days after the 2020 election, members of the Proud Boys expressed fear the election was being stolen, echoing former President Donald Trump’s unfounded claims.
“The left doesn’t realize they are radicalizing people by stealing this election,” defendant Joseph Biggs wrote in a Nov. 4, 2020 message. “They are gonna create their own worst enemy from this.”
The next day, Biggs said it was time to “storm into these election areas where they are counting ballots” and “take action. Peacefully.” But just four hours later, he raised a different plan: “It’s time for … War if they steal this …”
In a Nov. 27, 2020 message, defendant Zachary Rehl raised similar hopes.
“Hopefully the firing squads are for the traitors that are trying to steal the election from the American people,” he said, linking to a Microsoft News article about the Trump administration’s efforts to bring firing squads and electrocutions back for federal executions.
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‘Standby order’ rescinded
In the days after the 2020 presidential election, as it became clear Joe Biden would win the race over Trump, Tarrio, the Proud Boys leader, issued a command: “Standby order has been rescinded.”
The right-wing extremist group’s longtime national chairman was calling back to comments made by Trump, prosecutors alleged. During a September 2020 debate, when Trump was asked to condemn white supremacist groups, he said: “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.” Tarrio replied on Parler shortly after: “Standing by, sir.”
‘Rebels of America Party’
On Nov. 11, defendant Ethan Nordean wrote on Parler that he was tired of “traditional party labels” and sought to start a new one: the Rebels of America Party.
“Say what you want, advocate for mutual combat laws (fighting solves everything), zero gun laws and restrictions, yes ZERO, privatize everything and limit the government to protection of its citizens only,” Nordean, whose screenname was “RebelRufio,” wrote of his purported platform. “Join my party, Rufio for president 2024.”
An unnamed commenter said they would sign up for the party on one condition: “As long as all politicians we (have) currently are lynched on your inauguration day and all bureaucrats are summarily shot on sight.”
“Deal?” the commenter asked.
“Deal,” Nordean responded.
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Proud Boys go ‘incognito’
A week ahead of the Capitol attack, Proud Boys leader Henry “Enrique” Tarrio told other members of the right-wing extremist group that they would “turn out in record numbers” on Jan. 6, 2021, but “this time with a twist.”
Tarrio told the Proud Boys on Dec. 29, 2020, to dress inconspicuously on Jan. 6 – not in the group’s usual colors.
“We will not be wearing our traditional black and yellow,” Tarrio wrote. “We will be incognito and we will spread across downtown DC in smaller teams.”
Other Proud Boys echoed Tarrio’s orders in their own Parler posts. Nordean wrote that the Proud Boys would be in D.C. on Jan. 6, but would not be recognizable, aiming to blend into the crowd with some members wearing “basic attire,” some wearing “Trump gear,” and others dressed to “look like antifa.”
“We are going to smell like you, move like you and look like you,” Nordean said in a subsequent post. “The only thing we will do thats (sic) us is think like us.”
‘Laws of power’
In the same Dec. 29 message, in preparing for Jan. 6, Tarrio cited a book titled “The 48 Laws of Power,” by Robert Greene. He listed the numbers of nine purported laws of gaining, maintaining and wielding power:
- Law 3: Conceal your intentions
- Law 4: Always say less than necessary
- Law 14: Pose as a friend, work as a spy
- Law 15: Crush your enemy totally
- Law 17: Keep others in suspended terror. Cultivate an air of unpredictability
- Law 29: Plan all the way to the end
- Law 37: Create compelling spectacles
- Law 39: Stir up waters to catch fish
- Law 48: Assume formlessness
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‘New Years Revolution’
By the time the clock hit midnight on Jan. 1, 2021, members of the Proud Boys’ rhetoric had escalated.
“Let’s bring this new year with one word in mind: revolt,” Tarrio said on the first of the year, less than a week before the Capitol attack.
“New Years Revolution,” he wrote in another.
Story Credit: usatoday.com