After storming the Capitol: Imprisonment of Proud Boys leader draws attention to growth of far right in America
A court in Washington, D.C. sentenced the leader of the Proud Boys group, Enrique Tarrio, to 22 years in prison, accusing him of planning and instigating the storming of Capitol Hill, in which at least four people were killed.
During his speech at the trial on September 6, Judge Timothy Kelly described the storming of Congress as an attempt to break the long-established American tradition of the peaceful transfer of power.
This punishment is the largest of its kind with regard to the penalties issued against the defendants in the case, as the court considered that Enrique, 39, was the main leader of the unfortunate plot that the United States witnessed.
Rebellion against democracy
Far-right elements stormed Capitol Hill on January 6, 2021, to disrupt the constitutional procedures session to inaugurate Joe Biden as president, in objection to his victory and a desire to install the losing candidate, Donald Trump, in his place.
That chaos caused scenes of violence, including deaths and injuries, and the Proud Boys group was accused of planning and mobilizing that famous incident, which has become an essential point in the American authorities’ understanding of the danger of far-right groups and the extent of their development in terms of communication and the ability to mobilize and support racist ideologies.
As a result of that incident, on May 11, 2021, the Department of Homeland Security announced the launch of a new unit in its intelligence agency to combat domestic terrorism and to give broader powers to law enforcement authorities to counter violent extremism. It pointed out that this unit constitutes an important step within a well-articulated strategy to undermine the threat of the far right.
Also, President Joe Biden asked, upon assuming power, to assess the activities of the extreme right in the country, the extent of its danger, and its ability to form militias, in light of the growing activity of the movement in the country. On September 15, 2022, the White House organized the We Stand United Summit in the presence of Biden and officials of civil society organizations to discuss the dangers of the far right and the spread of hate speech and terrorism on the security and safety of society and its democracy.
Problems of the extreme right in America
The movement was able to carry out impressive attacks during the last period, most notably the stabbing of the imam of Umar Ibn Al-Khattab Mosque in Paterson, New Jersey, by a person named Serif Zorba on April 11, while a right-wing terrorist named Payton Gendron, 18 years old, attacked a group of African-Americans with a firearm in a store in Buffalo, New York, on May 15, 2022, killing ten people and injuring three others, and he used his phone to broadcast the attack directly on social media.
Among the problems that deepen the crisis of the far right in the United States are the articles of the Constitution that allow people to carry firearms, as the ease of circulation and sale of weapons makes the tasks of extremists easier.
For its part, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) pointed out the rise of the far right in some states in a report it issued in September 2022, and the state of Florida was the most prominent US state in which the trend is rising.
The ADL announced that it had monitored an increase in the ability of the extreme right in the state to use the internet to spread violent ideologies and recruit elements, pointing out that 34.4% of those affiliated with the trend in Florida belong to the Proud Boys group, the Three Percenters, and the Oath Keepers group.