Proud Boys members arrested over Capitol riots

·3 min read
<p>Members of the far-right group Proud Boys make 'OK' hand gestures indicating

Members of the far-right group Proud Boys make 'OK' hand gestures indicating

(Reuters)" />

The US Justice Department has arrested members of the far-right group, Proud Boys, in connection with the Capitol riots on 6 January.

A pro-Trump mob breached the US Capitol on that day during the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential election victory, causing House members to barricade themselves inside offices to hide from the rioters.

Five people died and several more were injured in the insurrection. A week later, and a week before leaving office, President Donald Trump was impeached by the House for the second time for inciting the riots at a rally nearby.

Federal prosecutors announced that Ethan Nordean, 30, who describes himself as the “sergeant of arms” of the Seattle chapter of the Proud Boys, was arrested on Wednesday morning.

Proud Boys is a far-right, male-only organisation known for engaging in violent clashes at political rallies, which has been described as an extremist group by the legal advocacy organisation, the Southern Poverty Law Centre.

Facebook and Instagram have also banned content from members of the group from appearing on their sites, with the former explaining its decision by saying that it bans “hate organisations” from its service.

Mr Nordean had been under investigation for more than a week leading up to his arrest, and has been alleged to have been the chief organiser of a mob of around 100 Proud Boys members who marched to the Capitol on 6 January.

He is facing multiple charges, including impeding an official government proceeding and aiding and abetting. Mr Nordean could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the charges.

In a statement to the Seattle Times, Mr Nordean’s family wrote: “We have tried for a long while to get our son off the path which led to his arrest today - to no avail.”

Nicholas DeCarlo, 30, from Texas, and Nicholas Ochs, 34, from Hawaii, were also arrested on Wednesday in connection with the riots.

Mr Ochs is the founder of the Hawaii chapter of the group, while both men have been charged in an indictment with conspiring with others to create a plan to stop Congress certifying the election results.

Prosecutors alleged in the indictment that Mr Ochs and Mr DeCarlo carved the words “MURDER THE MEDIA” into the Capitol’s Memorial Door after breaching the building.

They have also been accused of crossing state lines to obstruct Congress and forcibly storming the Capitol building. Both men face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the charges.

Proud Boys member Joseph Biggs, who was photographed alongside Mr Nordean during the march to the Capitol, was also arrested last month in connection to the events of that day.

The arrests announced on Wednesday came just hours after Canada designated Proud Boys as a terrorist organisation, explaining the decision by saying that domestic intelligence forces have become increasingly concerned about the group.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said that the decision was influenced by the group’s "pivotal role" in the riots on 6 January in the US.

Proud Boys joins a long list of groups designated as a terrorist entity in Canada, including The Taliban, Al Qaeda and Boko Haram alongside many others.

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