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Proud Boys: Did Donald Trump Inspire Them to Try and Destroy Democracy?

Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C. Image by Gage Skidmore.
Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C.

Proud Boys In a World of Legal Pain: The Proud Boys aren’t that proud at the moment. If prosecutors have their way, the leadership team of the ultra-rightwing group may soon be seeing the inside of a jail cell for years to come.

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Donald Trump had a chance to distance himself from the band of ruffians in a presidential debate in 2020. Instead, he said, “Proud Boys stand back and stand by.”

The members were energized by the comments, and after Trump lost the election to Joe Biden, they plotted an effort to overturn it, according to private messages uncovered by investigators.

Proud Boys: What Are the Accusations?  

Five Proud Boys are on trial for a seditious conspiracy against the United States government for their alleged actions during the January 6 insurrection.

Some of the comments the prosecution are using against the defendants are public statements gleaned from social media.

One Proud Boy honcho, Joe Biggs, said he was “happy” to receive marching orders from Trump to go after the leftwing anarchic group Antifa.    

“Stop the Steal” Turned Into an All-out Riot Led By Proud Boys

Private texts and chat comments show that Proud Boys leadership was looking at Donald Trump for inspiration before the January 6 “Stop the Steal” event in 2021 that precipitated the attack on Capitol Hill.

Biggs joins defendants Enrique Tarrio – the group’s former national leader – along with Ethan Nordean from Seattle, Philadelphia Proud Boy leader Zachary Rehl, and New York’s Dominic Pezzola.

Pezzola is accused of starting the main Capitol attack “when he shattered a Senate-wing window with a stolen police riot shield,” Politico reported.

Then Proud Boys numbering in the hundreds filtered into the Capitol.

They Formed a Spearhead for the Other Rioters

Prosecutors believe these men were a pivotal force who encouraged the greater mob to infiltrate the complex.

They allegedly incited the crowd to stream past barricades and push through Capitol Police.

Revolution Was Brewing  

Some Proud Boys and their sympathizers considered January 6 as part of a “revolution.”

Tarrio was communicating with three women after the election.

The government claimed a woman named “Eryka” said in a text that “The revolution and storming the winter capital is at stake. The revolution is [more] important than anything,” she wrote on December 30.

Tarrio texted back, “[T]hat’s what every waking moment consists of.”

They Wanted to Infiltrate Other Government Buildings

Eryka and Tarrio are accused of sharing a plan called “1776 Returns” that entailed the Proud Boys taking over government buildings until a new presidential election was declared.

Defense attorneys have discounted the 1776 Returns plan as an effort to conduct peaceful “sit ins” on federal property and pointed out that it did not call specifically for violence.

Equipped for Mayhem

However, Tarrio shared that he was taking specific equipment with him to Washington to aid in the planned attack, including a vest with a chest plate, a radio, and goggles.

Proud Boys also discussed equipment such as body armor and pepper spray, stab-proof vests, and cleansing wipes, which would be used to de-contaminate chemical spray.

Tactical Planning

The government said that the defendants used an encrypted app to discuss tactics for storming the capitol.

They planned to fan out around the building and break into small groups to provide maximum coverage and outwit police.

The Proud Boys could then push past the barricades in a coordinated manner.

The accused are innocent until proven guilty, but the evidence uncovered will likely influence the jury that the Proud Boys acted in a conspiratorial manner to plan the violence with malice aforethought instead of just following the mob on January 6.

This gives one an idea of how the plot progressed and how it grew from an original comment by Trump before the election.

The Proud Boys on trial are likely regretting the day they became involved in presidential politics.

BONUS: The Fall of Joe Biden Has Started  

BONUS: Donald Trump Looks At His End 

BONUS: Kamala Harris Should Quit 

BONUS: A Nuclear War over Ukraine

BONUS: Donald Trump Looks Desperate

Author Expertise and Experience: Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.

Written By

Now serving as 1945s New Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer.