Capitol attack: more than 60 Proud Boys used encrypted channel to plan

Capitol attack: more than 60 Proud Boys used encrypted channel to plan, indictment says

Indictment includes conspiracy charges against four alleged leaders

The neo-fascist Proud Boys deployed a large contingent in Washington on 6 January, the day of the US Capitol attack, with more than 60 participating in an encrypted messaging channel called Boots on the Ground, a federal indictment says.

The indictment, which includes conspiracy charges against four men described as leaders of the far-right group, presents fresh evidence of how officials believe members planned and carried out a coordinated attempt to stop Congress certifying Joe Biden’s electoral victory over Donald Trump.

At least 19 leaders, members or associates of the Proud Boys have been charged in federal court with offenses related to the 6 January riot, which resulted in five deaths. More than 300 people have been charged in total. Trump was impeached for inciting the insurrection but was acquitted after only seven Republican senators broke ranks to vote to convict him.

The indictment unsealed on Friday also suggests that the Proud Boys, whom Trump told to stand back and stand by during a presidential debate last year, were discussing what they would do after he left the White House.

We need to start planning and we are starting planning for a Biden presidency, one alleged leader wrote after the Capitol invasion, according to the indictment.

Just two days before the Capitol attack, the Proud Boys’ leader, Enrique Tarrio, was arrested in Washington, charged with vandalizing a Black Lives Matter banner at a historic Black church, and ordered to stay out of the District of Columbia.

The Proud Boys reacted with alarm, one alleged leader warning that communications could be compromised, telling members they could be “ooking at Gang charges and suggesting they stop everything immediately, according to the indictment.

But they regrouped, creating fresh encrypted channels to communicate and advising members to meet at the Washington Monument at 10am on 6 January, according to the indictment. One alleged leader told members on 5 January to avoid getting into any shit tonight. Tomorrow’s the day. Proud Boys were repeatedly warned not to wear their typical black and yellow colors. Cops are the primary threat, one channel was warned on the night before the attack.

On 6 January, the Proud Boys marched to the Capitol before Trump finished addressing thousands of supporters near the White House.

About two hours later, just before Congress convened a joint session to certify the election results, a group of Proud Boys followed a crowd who breached barriers at a pedestrian entrance to the Capitol grounds, the indictment says. Several Proud Boys entered the Capitol after the mob smashed windows and forced open doors.

A Wall Street Journal investigation of video footage found Proud Boys members were key instigators, at the forefront in many pivotal moments.

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