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Former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio gets 22 years in prison for 6 January Capitol riots

FILE - Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio speaks at a rally in Delta Park on Sept. 26, 2020, in Portland, Ore.
FILE - Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio speaks at a rally in Delta Park on Sept. 26, 2020, in Portland, Ore. Copyright AP Photo
Copyright AP Photo
By Euronews with AP
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Tarrio, who led the neofacist Proud Boys group as it became a force in mainstream Republican circles, had pleaded with the judge for leniency.

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Former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was sentenced Tuesday to 22 years in prison for orchestrating a failed plot to keep Donald Trump in power after the Republican lost the 2020 election, capping the case with the stiffest punishment that has been handed down yet for the US Capitol attack.

Tarrio, 39, pleaded for leniency before the judge imposed the prison term topping the 18-year sentences given to Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and one-time Proud Boys leader Ethan Nordean for seditious conspiracy and other convictions stemming from the 6 January 2021 riot. 

Tarrio, who led the neofacist group as it became a force in mainstream Republican circles, lowered his head after the sentence was imposed, then squared his shoulders. He raised his hand and made a “V” gesture with his fingers as he was led out of the courtroom in orange jail garb.

His sentencing comes as the Justice Department prepares to put Trump on trial at the same courthouse in Washington on charges that the then-president illegally schemed to cling to power that he knew had been stripped away by voters.

Rising to speak before the sentence was handed down, Tarrio called 6 January a “national embarrassment,” and apologised to the police officers who defended the Capitol and the lawmakers who fled in fear. His voice cracked as he said he let down his family and vowed that he is done with politics.

"I am not a political zealot. Inflicting harm or changing the results of the election was not my goal," Tarrio said. “Please show me mercy,” he said, adding, “I ask you that you not take my 40s from me.”

US District Judge Timothy Kelly, who was appointed to the bench by Trump, said Tarrio was motivated by "revolutionary zeal" to lead the conspiracy that resulted in “200 men, amped up for battle, encircling the Capitol.” Noting that Tarrio had not previously shown any remorse publicly for his crimes, the judge said a stiff punishment was necessary to deter future political violence.

"It can't happen again. It can’t happen again,” the judge repeated.

Tarrio and three lieutenants were convicted in May of seditious conspiracy and other crimes after a months-long trial that served as a vivid reminder of the violent chaos fueled by Trump’s lies about the election that helped inspire right-wing extremists like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers.

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