NewsStreet Scribe

Fascist ‘Proud Boys’ Convicted of Storming the U.S. Capitol

Proud Boys confront counterprotesters during a march on Washington in 2020. Credit: Geoff Livingston

“Now you don’t talk so loud/ Now you don’t seem so proud,” sang Bob Dylan in 1965. His line from nearly 60 years ago was appropriate for the present day on May 4, when four members of the far-right Proud Boys—including leader Enrique Torrio—were found guilty of seditious conspiracy for their roles in the Capitol Hill insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021. 

Now that their federal trial in Washington is over, the “street fighting men” of the Proud Boys cabal face prison terms of 20 years or more when they are sentenced, probably in August. When their sentencing day finally arrives, the Proud Boys might recall the Biblical admonition that, “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

A May 4 press release from the U.S. Department of Justice said the Proud Boys call their group a “pro-Western fraternal organization for men who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world, aka Western chauvinists.” The DOJ statement reminded Americans, “In September 2020, former President Donald J. Trump, during a nationally televised debate, told the Proud Boys to ‘stand back and stand by.’ Thereafter, membership in the group increased dramatically.” 

The DOJ touted its record of successful prosecutions of Capitol Hill rioters, saying, “In the 27 months since Jan. 6, 2021, more than 1,000 individuals have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, including more than 320 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement.” In an earlier federal trial in Washington, nine members of the right-wing Oath Keepers militia also were convicted of seditious conspiracy charges for their crimes on Capitol Hill during the insurrection. Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes is to be sentenced on May 25. Like the Proud Boys, Rhodes and his co-conspirators face long prison terms.

The Oath Keepers try to recruit members with experience in the military or law enforcement, just as the Ku Klux Klan did during the Jim Crow era. Federal authorities recently arrested a former FBI agent, Jared Wise, for inciting the MAGA mob to attack police during the Jan. 6 melee. A retired New York cop named Thomas Webster has received a 10-year sentence for assaulting an active-duty officer during the Capitol Hill insurrection, the longest Jan. 6-related prison term so far but one that may soon be eclipsed by sentences for the Proud Boys and the Oath keepers.

Republican politicians like Georgia’s Marjorie Taylor Greene and Athens-area congressman Andrew Clyde have attempted to minimize the MAGA mob that brought domestic terrorism to this nation’s capital in an effort to thwart the peaceful transfer of presidential power after Donald Trump lost the 2020 election. 

Proud Boys member Joe Biggs showed the truth about the insurrection in a video he made during the Capitol Hill criminality in 2021. Gloating with a grinning gaggle of MAGA mobsters outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, Biggs said, “So we just stormed the fucking Capitol, took the motherfucking place back! So much fun! January 6 will be a day in infamy!” 

Biggs seemed to be trying to allude to President Franklin Roosevelt calling the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 “a date which will live in infamy.” On that date in 1941, America entered a war against fascism. On Jan. 6, 2021, homegrown fascists fought a war against America. Biggs may think that “infamy” is somehow cool, but the true definition of the word certainly applies to him and his ilk: evil fame or reputation. The Trump troops who stormed the Capitol can certainly be described as infamous: having an exceedingly bad reputation, notorious, causing or deserving infamy.

The Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers may soon be locked away, but fascism marches on in America. When a gunman was killed for shooting shoppers at a mall in Texas recently, he was found to have pro-Nazi tattoos and an insignia patch saying RWDS: Right-Wing Death Squad. Proud Boys have been seen wearing the same patch. They show what martyred Chilean dissident poet Victor Jara meant when he wrote, “How terrifying is the face of fascism. For them, blood is a medal, carnage is a heroic gesture.”