The trials and convictions of extremists

The leaders of the extremists groups behind the attacks on January 6th have had some serious setbacks in the courts. Last week saw the leaders of the Proud Boys get convicted of seditious conspiracy

Former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio and three other members of the far-right extremist group were convicted Thursday of a plot to attack the U.S. Capitol in a desperate bid to keep Donald Trump in power after the Republican lost the 2020 presidential election.

A jury in Washington, D.C., found Tarrio and three lieutenants guilty of seditious conspiracy after hearing from dozens of witnesses over more than three months in one of the most serious cases brought in the stunning attack that unfolded on Jan. 6, 2021, as the world watched on live TV.

Earlier, the leaders of the Oath Keepers were also found guilty of conspiracy and obstruction.

Four people associated with the Oath Keepers were convicted on Monday of conspiracy and obstruction charges stemming from the attack on the U.S. Capitol in the latest trial involving members of the far-right antigovernment extremist group.

A Washington D.C. jury found Sandra Parker, of Morrow, Ohio, Laura Steele, of Thomasville, North Carolina, William Isaacs, of Kissimmee, Florida, and Connie Meggs, of Dunnellon, Florida, guilty of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and other felony charges.

In November, Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes and Kelly Meggs — who led the Oath Keepers’ Florida chapter — were convicted of seditious conspiracy. Three other Oath Keepers were cleared of the charge in that case but were found guilty of other serious crimes. After a second trial, four additional Oath Keepers were convicted of seditious conspiracy in January. Seditious conspiracy calls for up to 20 years in prison. None of the Oath Keepers have been sentenced yet.

Others have also received hefty sentences.

A Kentucky man with a long criminal record was sentenced Friday to a record-setting 14 years in prison for attacking police officers with pepper spray and a chair as he stormed the U.S. Capitol with his wife.

Peter Schwartz’s prison sentence is the longest so far among hundreds of Capitol riot cases. The judge who sentenced Schwartz also handed down the previous longest sentence — 10 years — to a retired New York Police Department officer who assaulted a police officer outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Schwartz’s attorneys requested a prison sentence of four years and six months. They said his actions on Jan. 6 were motivated by a “misunderstanding” about the 2020 presidential election. Then-President Donald Trump and his allies spread baseless conspiracy theories that Democrats stole the election from the Republican incumbent.

‘Misunderstanding’? These people were stupid enough to take the bogus clams of a serial liar and serial sex abuser Donald Trump. One feels a bit of sympathy for them for having been taken advantage of by a conman, but at the same time resorting to the kinds of actions they did is inexcusable.

These convictions have thrown both organizations into some disarray.

The recent convictions of the Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes and Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio has raised questions about the future of both extremist groups and what role they may or not play in the future path of violent extremism in the US.

Researchers who monitor American far-right organizations said the Oath Keepers have in effect been decimated, with only a handful of chapters remaining, while the Proud Boys are ramping up efforts to protest at LGBTQ events and taking cues from larger national conservative conversations about hostility to transgender rights.

Carroll Rivas said since the arrests of Rhodes and other Oath Keepers’ members, it only took about five months for the group to go from nearly 100 chapters to just a handful remaining active. “I can tell you I don’t see as many Oath Keeper bumper stickers around,” she reported.

The Oath Keepers, Carroll Rivas explained, were structured with their leader, Stewart Rhodes, assuming all the primary roles. Carroll Rivas describes Rhodes’s conviction and potential 25-year prison sentence as cutting off the “head of the dragon” and undermining the group’s strategy of recruiting law enforcement, military veterans, and public officials.

But the Proud Boys, unlike the Oath Keepers, have not splintered.

In the wake of Tarrio’s conviction, the Proud Boys are ramping up their activity, and trying to disrupt LGBTQ+ events, such as protesting at drag queen story hours. The Proud Boys, which have many local chapters throughout the country and decentralized leadership, have realized they don’t need to travel thousands of miles and can “shift the social norm in their backyard”, said Segal.

He added: “They glom on to a contentious public issue in order to try to attract people.” Segal argued that the Proud Boys were doubling down in their attempts to target the LGBTQ+ events because of the “the baseless narrative that LGBTQ community are grooming children”.

Unlike the Oath Keepers, which had a specific anti-government ideology, Segal explained the Proud Boys were taking strains from different ideologies, such as the rise of Christian nationalism and opposition to what they view as the radical left.

The danger is that these groups are like the Hydra of Greek mythology and that metaphorically cutting off the heads of the organizations by sending the leaders to prison may result in others sprouting up in their place.


  1. beholder says

    The leaders of the extremists groups behind the attacks on January 6th have had some serious setbacks in the courts.

    The elephant in the room is that a certain ex-president, his white house cronies, half of Congress, several of the military brass, the police, and a vast layer of executives in corporate America have faced no consequences in court. All of whom were necessary to have January 6 get as far as it did.

    If anything, the convictions seem to be a bunch of convenient small fry — powerless individuals who were never part of the ruling class to begin with. The whole arc of the January 6 commission and these insignificant court battles seems to be a big cover-up.

  2. says

    No, they won’t crop up like dragons’ teeth. They’re cowards. The organization will stumble along a little while then evaporate.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *