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Indictment Details Proud Boys’ Group Chat Before Capitol Riot

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The leader of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, was not in Washington on Jan. 6. He had been arrested two days earlier and banned from the city by a local judge handling his case. Mr. Tarrio had been taken into custody in connection with the burning of a Black Lives Matter flag that was stolen by his group from a Black church after a Proud Boys rally in December.

According to the indictment, the arrest sent shock waves through the Proud Boys’ leadership. That same night, prosecutors say, Mr. Donohoe, in North Carolina, posted a message on one of group’s encrypted channels saying, “Everything is compromised and we can be looking at Gang charges.” Mr. Donohoe, who goes by the nickname YutYut, took steps to “nuke” an earlier version of the group’s encrypted channel and to create a new one, prosecutors say.

By Jan. 5, court papers say, the Proud Boys had settled on a channel called “Boots on the Ground” to communicate and more than 60 members joined it, including all four defendants in the new indictment and an unnamed co-conspirator. That person, prosecutors say, was the one who issued orders on the eve of the assault, telling his colleagues that Mr. Nordean would be in charge on the ground in the morning and that no one should wear their “colors” — an apparent reference to the Proud Boys’ typical black-and-yellow polo shirts.

No one in the mob was wearing those colors when Mr. Nordean, carrying a bullhorn, joined Mr. Biggs and Mr. Rehl in leading the Proud Boys toward the Capitol at just before 1 p.m. on Jan. 6, crossing over barricades that had been “violently disassembled and trampled by the crowd,” the indictment says. Minutes later, prosecutors say, Mr. Donohoe helped part of the mob advance up a flight of stairs, overwhelming the police.

By 2:15 p.m., the indictment says, one Proud Boy — Dominic Pezzola — used a riot shield stolen from the police to break a window, allowing several other members of the group to enter the building.

Five minutes later, court papers say, a message flashed across “Boots on the Ground.”

“We just stormed the Capitol,” it said.

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