The investigation into the Capitol protests continues, now over two months later, charges are still being be doled out. This time, a handful of leaders from the Proud Boys group joined nearly 20 of their compatriots in facing those charges. Ethan Nordean of Washington, Joseph Biggs of Florida, Zachary Rehl of Pennsylvania, and Charles Donohoe of North Carolina are all now facing charges of conspiring to block Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s presidential victory.
The leader of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, was already arrested before the riots. Prosecutors now seek to put the aforementioned regional leaders behind bars, as well as many other less prominent figures in the organization, as evidence continues to be uncovered. The four leaders currently facing charges have several allegations pending but all fall under the larger umbrella of ‘Conspiracy to Disrupt Congress.’
The first in the litany of accusations has these four men pegged as the orchestrators of the attacks on Capitol Police. Evidence has been accumulating since last November when Joseph Biggs began posting on social media just before the election. He was threatening war should Biden steal the election from Trump. The day after Thanksgiving, his co-conspirator Ethan Nordean shared on social media the ominous phrase “we tried playing nice and by the rules, now you will deal with the monster you created.”
The day before the Capitol attacks a new messaging channel was created. The channel, dubbed “Boots on the Ground”, was encrypted for privacy and housed more than 60 users – including the four defendants and one other conspirator who has yet to be named. That unnamed person posted in the chat on January 5, saying “Rufio is in charge, cops are the primary threat…don’t get caught by them or BLM, don’t get drunk until off the street.” Rufio Panman is a pseudonym used by Ethan Nordean.
The indictment against the four Proud Boy Leaders also mentions their efforts to acquire military equipment, destroy protective metal barriers, and attack and disrupt police. Among their preparation work was a fundraiser online to cover costs for protective gear; another fundraiser was held to cover travel expenses and brought in over $5000.
Two of the four chapter heads currently facing charges have been arrested in the past on criminal charges. Biggs was arrested in January but released on a $25,000 bond. Nordean, meanwhile, was in custody but ordered to be released. The Justice Department requested he be detained until a trial was determined, but a federal judge denied them, saying there was not enough evidence and they could not “substantiate allegations” against Nordean as being a coordinator.
Members of similar groups, The Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters, have also been arrested and faced similar charges for their actions on January 6.
Prosecutors are still reviewing evidence and emphasizing that their investigation is still very young. New documents continue to arrive every day including videos from cameras at the Capitol, people’s cell phones, and computers that were taken during searches, as well as eye witness accounts that are piling up for the prosecutors to review.