The desecration of this sanctuary of American democracy was unprecedented. The former leader of the American far-right group Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, was sentenced on Tuesday to 22 years in prison, the heaviest sentence handed down for the assault on the Capitol.
Last week, the four other Proud Boys members convicted in May along with Enrique Tarrio were sentenced to between 10 and 18 years in prison. The heaviest sentence so far for this attack, 18 years, had been pronounced against Stewart Rhodes, founder of the far-right militia Oath Keepers.
He wasn’t in Washington
On January 6, 2021, some 200 members of the Proud Boys stormed the Capitol, the seat of the United States Congress, in an attempt to prevent the certification of the victory of Democrat Joe Biden over incumbent Republican President Donald Trump. This day “broke our tradition of peaceful transfer of power”, again lamented the judge, Timothy Kelly.
Unlike the other four defendants, Enrique Tarrio, against whom the prosecution requested 33 years in prison, was not in Washington on this fateful date. But the judge considered that “Mr. Tarrio was the ultimate leader of the conspiracy”.
The magistrate seemed insensitive to the remorse expressed at the bar by the accused, his voice at times choked with sobs, who called January 6, 2021 a “horrible day” and implored his “clemency”, as had did before with emotion his sister, his fiancée and his mother. Prosecutor Conor Mulroe had urged the judge to impose a heavier sentence on him than for the other defendants in this case.
Timothy Kelly took into account in his calculation the aggravating circumstances for acts of terrorism requested by the prosecutors but pronounced for each of the sentences significantly lower than the requisitions, considering that the defendants had “not intended to kill”.
He had burned a “Black Lives Matter” banner
Defense lawyers said their client had no control over events due to his absence from Washington on January 6, 2021, but the judge noted that it conveniently allowed him to “distance himself” from the assault. of the Capitol. Enrique Tarrio was then in Baltimore, in the neighboring state of Maryland, due to a court order requiring him to leave the federal capital.
This injunction was part of the conditions of his release after two days of detention for burning a “Black Lives Matter” banner belonging to a church in Washington mainly attended by African-Americans during a demonstration which had degenerated in December.
“The physical absence of Tarrio in no way lessens the seriousness of his actions since he was more of a general than a soldier,” argued the prosecutors in their written argument in support of their submissions.
A son of Cuban immigrants
His lawyer, Nayib Hassan, on the contrary demanded clemency for this 39-year-old son of Cuban immigrants, originally from Florida (southeast), insisting, despite a former conviction for the sale of stolen medical equipment, on his cooperation in investigations. federal authorities on drug or human trafficking.
He also indicated that his client is “misidentified as ‘White'” in court documents. “The defendant is multiracial and of Afro-Cuban descent, so his race should be recorded as ‘Black’.”
The identification with white supremacism of individuals classified as “Latinos” in the ethno-racial terminology in force in American society raises many questions, explained anthropologist Yarimar Bonilla in an op-ed published in August by the New York Times, citing Enrique Tarrio and Mauricio Garcia, author of a massacre in May in a shopping center in Texas, who professed Nazi convictions.
“Just as ‘Western supremacists’ in the United States cling to their European heritage by exalting their Celtic culture, so many Latinos cling to Eurocentric canons of beauty, aesthetics and culture,” observes- she.