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ONA: Document in Jan. 6 Case Shows Plan to Storm Government Buildings
OBJECTIVE NEWS ANALYSIS
- A document found by federal prosecutors in the possession of a far-right leader contained a detailed plan to surveil and storm government buildings around the Capitol on Jan. 6 last year.
- The document, titled “1776 Returns,” was cited by prosecutors charging the far-right leader, the former head of the Proud Boys extremist group, with conspiracy.
- The indictment of Mr. Tarrio described the document in general terms, but people familiar with it added substantial new details about the scope and complexity of the plan — it set out for directing an effort to occupy six House and Senate office buildings and the Supreme Court [last Jan. 6].
- The document does not specifically mention an attack on the Capitol building itself. But in targeting high-profile government buildings in the immediate area and in the detailed timeline it set out, the plan closely resembles what actually unfolded when the Capitol was stormed [by a mob intent on disrupting congressional certification of an Electoral College victory].
- Many questions remain about the document, including who wrote it and how it made its way to Mr. Tarrio on Dec. 30, 2020 [according to prosecutors].
- It appears to be the first time that prosecutors have sought to use evidence of a specific written plan to storm and occupy government buildings [in their wide-ranging investigation into the attack and what led up to it].
- [According to people familiar with] the 9 page document was broken into five parts — Infiltrate, Execution, Distract, Occupy and Sit-In — and included the following directives:
- Recommends recruiting at least 50 people to enter each of the seven government buildings.
- Advises protesters to appear “unsuspecting” and to “not look tactical,”.
- After ensuring that crowds at the buildings are “full and ready to go,” … “leads and seconds” should enter and open doors for others to go in, “causing trouble” to distract security guards.
- Should the crowds fail to gain entrance to the buildings quickly, … pulling fire alarms at nearby stores, hotels and museums to further distract guards or the police.
- “Protesters” should occupy the buildings and conduct sit-ins — and to chant slogans like “We the people” and “No Trump, No America.”
- Advises “protesters” to “scope out” road closures near the seven target buildings.
- Advises that on the morning of the protest, “scouts” drive around the buildings to look for “roadblocks.”
- Much of the document is marked for “internal” use.
- A section, known as the “Patriot Plan,” [appears to have been meant for public distribution] suggests that crowds begin to gather at the seven buildings at 1 p.m. on Jan. 6 and to await a “signal from lead” — and then to “storm” the buildings.
- The indictment of Mr. Tarrio is the second time [in recent months] that charges had been brought against a leader of an extremist group that played a prominent role in the assault.
- In January, prosecutors indicted Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers militia, with seditious conspiracy for what the government has described as a plot to violently disrupt the work of Congress.
- More than 30 Proud Boys have been charged [so far] in connection with the attack, and many more took part in it but have not been charged.
- Members of the group, who have long served as vocal — and often violent — advocates for Mr. Trump, were instrumental in several key moments in the riot, including one at the Capitol’s security perimeter that resulted in the first breach of the barricades.
- Prosecutors recently carried out search warrants at the homes in North Carolina and central Pennsylvania of two top members of the group. [later identified as Jeremy Bertino and John C. Stewart].
- Mr. Tarrio was not in Washington on Jan. 6, having been arrested two days earlier for vandalizing a Black Lives Matter banner at a Black church in the city after a pro-Trump rally in December 2020 that spiraled into violence after nightfall. Charged with a second crime — the possession of two high-capacity rifle magazines — he was ordered to leave Washington [by a local judge] as part of his release agreement.
- But federal prosecutors said in their indictment that [although Mr. Tarrio was not “physically taking part in the breach of the Capitol,”] he “led the advance planning and remained in contact with other members of the Proud Boys during” the storming of the building.
- The indictment claims that Mr. Tarrio issued orders before the attack for members of the group to leave behind their traditional black-and-yellow polo shirts and remain “incognito” when they arrived in Washington.
- The indictment also states that in the days leading up to the attack, Mr. Tarrio also took part in a private Telegram group chat with other Proud Boys called the Ministry of Self-Defense and appeared to watch from a distance as several leaders and members of the group stormed the Capitol.
- Mr. Tarrio was arrested last Tuesday and is expected to appear in court on Tuesday for a hearing to determine his bail.
- Prosecutors recommended that he remain in custody, citing that he encouraged his compatriots to press on even as they broke into the Capitol.
- Not long after the mob delayed the final certification of the presidential election Mr. Tarrio posted on social media, “Proud Of My Boys and my country.”
- Around the same time a member of the Proud Boys posted a message in an encrypted chat asking, “Are we a militia yet?” — Mr. Tarrio responded with a one-word voice note: “Yep.”
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