Witness: Proud Boys ‘openly’ expect civil war before Jan 6

WASHINGTON — In the month before the riots at the U.S. Capitol, members of the Proud Boys were increasingly angry about the 2020 election result and expected a “civil war,” a former member told jurors Tuesday. when he took the stand in the seditious conspiracy case against the former leader of the group.

Matthew Greene testified in the case against former Proud Boys national president Enrique Tarrio and four lieutenants under a cooperation agreement with the government after pleading guilty to storming the Capitol on January 6, 2021 with fellow extremists.

Greene told the jury that the Proud Boys’ conversations became more heated as December 2020 progressed and challenges to President Donald Trump’s election defeat were unsuccessful. The Proud Boys were “preparing and ready for whatever happens,” Greene said, adding that the group saw itself as “essentially the tip of the spear.”

“We openly expected a civil war at the time,” Greene said.

Greene is the first Proud Boys cooperator to take the stand in the case accusing Tarrio and associates of conspiring to forcibly stop the transfer of power from Trump to President Joe Biden. He was the first Proud Boys member in December 2021 to publicly plead guilty to conspiring with others to prevent Congress from certifying the Electoral College vote. He is cooperating with prosecutors in hopes of getting a lighter sentence.

Prosecutors allege that members of the Proud Boys carried out a coordinated attack on the Capitol in a desperate attempt to keep Trump in power. It is one of the most important cases to emerge from the Justice Department’s extensive investigation on January 6.

The other co-defendants are Joseph Biggs, of Ormond Beach, Florida, a self-described organizer for the Proud Boys; Zachary Rehl, former president of the Philadelphia chapter of the Proud Boys; and Dominic Pezzola, a member of the Proud Boys from Rochester, New York.

Defense attorneys say there is no evidence that the Proud Boys planned to attack the Capitol and prevent Congress from certifying the Electoral College vote on Jan. 6. A lawyer for Tarrio acknowledged that the former president and other self-described “Western chauvinists” in the Proud Boys shared “offensive” messages, but said it was Trump who unleashed the mob that attacked the Capitol.

Greene, who was a new recruit to the Proud Boys on Jan. 6 and says he has since left the group, said he was unaware of any specific plans to storm the Capitol. He said the leaders did not openly encourage members to use force, but when it did happen, it was celebrated.

“My expectation was that if the violence started, I shouldn’t back down,” he said.

Tarrio, who is from Miami, was not in Washington on Jan. 6 because he was arrested two days before the riots and accused of vandalizing a Black Lives Matter banner at a historic black church during a protest in December 2020. He was ordered to leave the capital, but prosecutors say he remained involved in the extremist group’s planning for January 6.

Others who may testify against Tarrio include Jeremy Bertino, the only Proud Boy to have pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy. An offense plea filed in court says Bertino understood the Proud Boys’ goal in traveling to Washington was to stop certification of Biden’s victory and that the group was prepared to use force and violence if necessary. to do it.

Greene’s testimony comes a day after four members of another far-right group, the Oath Keepers, were found guilty of seditious conspiracy in a separate case in the same Washington court. The group’s leader and another Oath Keeper were found guilty of sedition in November.

Greene traveled from Syracuse, New York, to Washington, with other Proud Boys on January 5 and was leading the mob on January 6 when police began using pepper spray and other crowd control measures.

One of them was Pezzola, who is accused of wresting a police riot shield from an officer and then breaking a Capitol Hill window. Greene was with him at the time it happened, but soon after he began to have doubts and turned away, he testified. He did not see Pezzola again until much later that day.

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