Two members of the Proud Boys, an extremist group with ties to white nationalism, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges that they conspired to interfere with police officers assigned to protect the Capitol during last month's deadly riots.
Attorneys representing Dominic Pezzola, 43, and William Pepe, 31, both of New York, entered the pleas during a brief hearing in federal court where they face multiple criminal counts, including obstruction, assault of police officers and robbery.
The defendants are among a half-dozen members of the group to be charged in connection with the Jan. 6 siege and face some of the most serious charges leveled so far in the far-reaching investigation.
Prosecutors say that Pezzola and Pepe were leading a group of supporters of then-President Donald Trump who stormed the Capitol and removed metal barricades to clear their path.
At one point, according to court documents, Pezzola clashed with a Capitol police officer and "ripped away the officer’s riot shield, while the officer was physically engaging with individuals who had gathered unlawfully in the west plaza of the Capitol."
"Pezzola can be seen on video that has been widely distributed, using that riot shield to smash a window at the U.S. Capitol," prosecutors said.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 2 Proud Boys plead not guilty to Capitol riot conspiracy charges