A federal judge has dismissed an attempt by members of the Proud Boys to drop charges for their involvement in the break-in of the United States Capitol on January 6.
Four members of the far-right organization – Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl, and Charles Donohoe – were charged on multiple charges, including conspiracy to attack the Capitol and obstruction of an official process of Congress convened to certify the electoral college result of the 2020 election. The defendants’ attorneys moved the dismissal of this charge on the basis of freedom of expression.
« Regardless of the political motivations of the defendants or whatever political message they were trying to convey, this alleged conduct is simply not protected by the First Amendment, » wrote Kelly in his opinion.
While some actions are not necessarily « Defendants are not, as they argue, indicted for burning flags, wearing black armbands, or for mere sit-in strikes or protests participate, ”wrote the judge. « Also, even if the conduct charged had an expressive aspect, it lost any First Amendment protection it had, » added Kelly when they behaved violently.
Defense attorneys also tried to argue that the Case should be dismissed because, in their view, the confirmation of the 2020 presidential election, which took place that day, was not an « official process » – an argument that Kelly said was based on a skewed definition of those words in his judgment, The Proud Boys, a far-right militant group with a remarkably violent and racist past, have spearheaded a number of attacks on left-wing activists. Days before the Capitol attack, Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was arrested for burning a Black Lives Matter banner in a historically black church in Washington, D.C. arrested.
Trump refused to condemn the Proud Boys during the 2020 presidential debates and instead urged them to « stand back and stand », which the group interpreted as approval.
The trial of the four Prouds Boys members are scheduled to start in May 2022. All four people will remain in jail until the trial begins.
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Chris Walker is a news writer for Truthout and is based in Madison, Wisconsin. Since the early 2000s, he has focused on both national and local issues and has authored thousands of articles analyzing the current issues and their impact on the American people.
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