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Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio pleads not guilty to Capitol riot charges

Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio pleads not guilty to Capitol riot charges
Proud Boys leader Henry “Enrique” Tarrio has pleaded not guilty to charges that he remotely led a plot to stop Congress’ certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 victory

Proud Boys leader Henry “Enrique” Tarrio pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to charges that he remotely led a plot to stop Congress’ certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 victory.

Though he wasn’t at the Capitol during the 6 January 2021, riot, prosecutors say Mr Tarrio organized encrypted chats with Proud Boys members in the weeks before the attack, had a 42-second phone call with another member of the group in the building during the insurrection and took credit for the chaos at the Capitol.

Police had arrested Mr Tarrio in Washington two days before the riot and charged him with vandalizing a Black Lives Matter banner at a historic Black church during a protest in December 2020. The day before the Capitol was attacked, a judge ordered Mr Tarrio to stay out of Washington.

Mr Tarrio’s indictment said that instead of staying out of town, he met with Oath Keepers founder and leader Elmer “Stewart” Rhodes and others in an underground parking garage for about 30 minutes on 5 January.

His lawyers have said the evidence against Mr Tarrio was weak and relies mostly on text messages and social media.

A judge has postponed the 18 May trial for Mr Tarrio and five others affiliated with the far-right group.

Prosecutors sought the postponement to give them more time to assess and share with opposing lawyers new information gathered in the investigation. Some defendants in the case agreed with the postponement request.

A new trial date is expected to be picked during a 21 April hearing.