Who is Enrique Tarrio, the Cuban-American who led the far-right group Proud Boys?

Washington – Enrique Tarrioborn in Miami to Cuban parents, was not in Washington when a mob stormed the Capitol with the aim of disrupting the certification of the 2020 election results, in which Republican Donald Trump lost to Democrat Joe Biden.

Tarrio, who led the far-right group Proud Boys from 2018 to 2021, observed the assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021 from a hotel in Baltimore, about 70 kilometers from the scene of the worst attack on democracy in the history of the United States.

He was not at the Capitol because two days earlier he had been arrested upon arriving in Washington from Miami due to another controversial episode: the burning of a flag with the motto “Black Lives Matter” (Black Lives Matter) at a historic African American church in the US capital during a protest by Trump supporters in December.

At the time of his arrest, police found two assault rifle bullet cartridges with the Proud Boys logo in his backpack.

He was released with an order to stay away from Washington, and authorities later admitted that his detention had occurred to avoid possible acts of violence during the march that Trump had called for January 6, 2021 with the slogan “Stop the steal” (“Stop the steal”).

However, Tarrio did not leave the city immediately. A day before the assault on the Capitol, he met in an underground parking lot in Washington with the leader of another far-right organization, the founder of the Oath Keepers, Stewart Rhodes.

Additionally, he spent the days before the attack sending instructions to other members of the Proud Boys. He asked one of his lieutenants in a Telegram message: “Whatever the outcome…make it a show”.

This Tuesday, more than two and a half years after the assault on the Capitol, Tarrio was sentenced in the federal court of the District of Columbia to 22 years in prison.

This harsh sentence, the highest of all those handed down against leaders of the Proud Boys, responds to the seriousness of the actions attributed to Tarrio and other members, who attacked the Capitol with force “calculated” to “undo the results.” of a democratic election” and keep Trump in power, according to the Prosecutor’s Office.

“The right-wing soldiers tried to keep their leader in power. They failed. “They are not heroes, they are criminals.”the attorneys for the Prosecutor’s Office wrote in a brief filed with the court in August.

Among those soldiers, Tarrio was the highest ranking: at the time of the assault on the Capitol he was the leader of the Proud Boys, a far-right group that promotes violence and espouses anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim and misogynistic views, and that the civil rights organization Southern Poverty Law Center defines it as a hate movement.

More than 200 of its members broke into the Capitol and did so, according to the Prosecutor’s Office, under the orders of Tarrio and his lieutenants.

At the time, Tarrio had a fair amount of political credentials behind him: he had been the Florida state director of the group “Latinos for Trump” and made an attempt to run in the Republican Party primary for a congressional seat in Florida. , although he eventually retired.

That seat ended up in the hands of Maria Elvira Salazar, from the most conservative wing of the Republican Party and daughter of Cuban parents exiled in Miami.

Also born in Miami 39 years ago, Tarrio grew up in Little Havana and for part of his life he had several small businesses in the security and surveillance sector, according to what he himself told the “Ballotpedia” portal when he ran for office. of 2020.

Already then, in a questionnaire, he identified Trump as one of his idols, although he also mentioned civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and rapper Kanye West, currently known as Ye.

In television interviews, Tarrio often appears wearing sunglasses and a black cap. In the protests that took place in Washington before the assault on the Capitol, photographers captured him wearing a bulletproof vest on several occasions.

The assault left five people dead, including a police officer who suffered a heart attack hours after the event, and nearly 140 officers were attacked. In addition, four police officers subsequently committed suicide.

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