Proud Boy Leader Who Threatened ‘War’ Ahead of Capitol Riot Is Arrested

Pilar Melendez
·3 min read
Criminal Complaint
Criminal Complaint

A Proud Boys leader who raised funds for tactical gear and fantasized about war in the lead up to the Capitol riot was arrested and charged Wednesday for participating in the violent insurrection.

Ethan Nordean, a 30-year-old who also goes by the name Rufio Panman, was charged with several counts, including obstructing or impeding an official proceeding, aiding and abetting, knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds, and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

Nordean, a self-described “Sergeant of Arms'' of the Seattle chapter of the Proud Boys, is among several Proud Boys to be arrested for their role in the riot, including Dominic “Spazzo” Pezzola, who allegedly smashed a window at the Capitol with a police shield, and Joseph Biggs, a top organizer who was caught on camera storming the building and declaring, “This is awesome.” The Proud Boys describe themselves as a “pro-Western fraternal organization for men who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world; aka Western Chauvinists.”

Proud Boys Dealt Another Blow as Feds Crack Down

According to a criminal complaint, Nordean can be seen in photos and videos next to Biggs marching “at the front” of a group of Proud Boys shouting “Fuck antifa!” and “Whose streets? Our Streets!” shortly before the riot. He was near the front of the crowd that confronted Capitol Police and was seen among the mob that entered the Capitol.

His social media posts indicate that he and other members “were planning in advance to organize a group that would attempt to overwhelm police barricades and enter the United States Capitol Building,” prosecutors said.

In one Parler post on Dec. 27, he wrote, “Anyone looking to help us with safety/protective gear, or communications equipment it would be much appreciated, things have gotten more dangerous for us this past year, anything helps.” It included a link to a fundraising site called “Protective gear and communications by Rufio Panman.”

Two days before the siege, the complaint states, Nordean posted a video on Parler of him and other Proud Boys dressed in tactical gear. “Let them remember the day they decided to make war with us,” the caption read.

Around the same time, prosecutors allege, Nordean posted a link to an episode of his video podcast “Rebel Talk with Rufio” on Parler. In the 63-minute video, Nordean discussed with another Proud Boys member what he described as “blatant, rampant voter fraud” in the 2020 presidential election. During the rant, he said the Proud Boys were going to “bring back that original spirit of 1776 of what really established the character of what America is. And it’s not complacency, it’s not low standards. It’s ‘this is how it’s going to be, and I don’t give a goddamn.’”

“Democracy is dead? Well, then no peace for you. No democracy, no peace,” he said later in the video. The following day, on Jan. 5, Nordean wrote on Parler, “It is apparent now more than ever, that if you are a patriot, you will be targeted and they will come after you, funny thing is that they don’t realize is, is we are coming for them. You’ve chosen your side, black and yellow teamed with red, white and blue against everyone else.”

During the insurrection, prosecutors allege, Nordean was spotted talking to Robert Gieswein, an alleged Three Percenter militiaman who was among the first to enter the Capitol through a window that was broken by Pezzola.

<div class="inline-image__credit">Criminal Complaint</div>
Criminal Complaint

“Photographs and video also show that Nordean was near the front of the crowd of rioters, who collectively approached, stood off against, and vastly outnumbered Capitol Police” before entering the building, the complaint states.

Two days after the siege, Nordean posted a photo on Parlor of a Capitol Police officer using pepper spray. “If you feel bad for the police, you are part of the problem,” Nordean wrote, adding “they care more about federal property (our property) than protecting and serving the people.”

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