Proud boys were the ‘tip of the spear’ after the election.
Proud boys were the ‘tip of the spear’ after the election.
WASHINGTON (AP) — A former Proud Boys member who pleaded guilty to conspiring with group leaders to violently stop the handover of presidential power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden told jurors Tuesday that he called their far-right extremist organization a “far-right organization.” as seen Spear after 2020 elections”.
Jeremy Bertino, who is testifying against former Pride Boys national leader Enrique Tario and four lieutenants as part of a cooperation agreement with federal prosecutors, recalled feeling stunned and then excited when Trump first told the Pride Boys to “stand back and stand by.” Debate with Biden.
After the election, Bertino saw the Proud Boys as leaders of the conservative movement, a view that was fueled by regular visitors to the conspiracy theory-promoting website Inforz.
“I believed that we were supposed to be leaders of the right, of our country,” Bertino said. “The tip of the spear.”
Bertino, 43, of North Carolina, is the only member of the far-right group who Convicted of seditious conspiracy Arising from a mob attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. Five Proud Boy accomplices on trial are charged with the same felony count, a Civil War-era crime that carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Bertino is scheduled to resume Wednesday with more testimony. The trial adjourned Tuesday before a prosecutor began questioning Bertino about the Jan. 6 attack.
Bertino is the second former Proud Boys member to testify at the trial. First, Matthew Green, Testified in January Members of the party were increasingly angry about the outcome of the 2020 presidential election and were expecting a “civil war”.
Jurors heard testimony from government witnesses for more than a month in the trial of Miami resident Tarrio and co-defendants Ethan Nordian, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl and Dominic Pezzola.
Nordian, of Auburn, Washington, was a proud boys chapter president and a member of the team’s national “Veteran Council.” Biggs, of Ormond Beach, Florida, was a self-described Proud Boys organizer. Rachel was a proud Son of Philadelphia chapter president. Pezola was a proud son of Rochester, New York.
Bertino said he believes the election was stolen from Trump and hopes the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn the election results. He was not in Washington during the Capitol riots. On December 12, 2021, he was stabbed during an altercation in downtown Washington following the Proud Boys March and was still recovering from his injuries on January 6.
Bertino said he was furious when he heard his alleged assailant had been released on bail. He directed much of his anger at the police, feeling they had “abandoned” the proud boys.
“I felt they were no longer on our side,” he testified. “And basically if you weren’t with us, you were against us.”
Bertino said Tario, Nordian and Biggs expressed his anger at police after his stabbing. Bertino added that many of the proud boys began referring to the police as “coptifah,” a twist on the word “antifa,” which refers to anti-fascist activists.
Tarrio’s lawsuit alleges that the Pride Boys held meetings and communicated through encrypted messages leading up to Jan. 6 to plan the attack. On the day of the riot, the Proud Boys dismantled the metal barricades set up to protect the Capitol. and gathered, directed and led members of the mob into the building, according to prosecutors.
Tari was also not in Washington on January 6. Police arrested him in Washington two days before the Capitol riots and charged him with vandalizing a Black Lives Matter banner at a historically black church during the December 2020 protests. Tario obeyed a judge’s order to leave town after his arrest.
Bertino joined the Charlotte chapter of the Proud Boys in 2018 after watching videos of group members fighting anti-fascist activists. He said he enjoyed friendships with men who shared his right-wing political views. He saw them as enemies “pretty much anyone who didn’t vote like us.”
Bertino said he became “very close” to Tario and was friendly with Biggs, Nordian and Rehle, but he recalled meeting Pezola only once. He met Tarrio in person at a Proud Boys convention in Las Vegas and later at a 2020 gun rights rally in Virginia, where he said they bonded over their escape from confrontations with “armed opponents.”
Proud Boys members describe their group as a politically incorrect men’s club for “Western chauvinists”. Bertino said the tension between the Pride Boys was “rally boys” who like to fight Antifa in public forums and “party boys” who like to drink together.
Bertino recalled his growing anger in the summer of 2020, as protests erupted across the country in response to the killing of George Floyd in police custody. He blamed Antifa for the violence and riots, calling them “foot soldiers of the left.”
“I thought we should have gone there to restore order and stop them,” he said.
Bertino pleaded guilty to treasonous conspiracy in October 2022 and agreed to cooperate with a Justice Department investigation into the role Proud Boys leaders played in the mob attack on the Capitol. He has not yet been sentenced.
The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 uprising showed Bertino’s video testimony in its first hearing last year. The committee showed a clip of Bertino saying the group’s membership likely tripled after then-President Trump’s comments during a debate with Biden that the Proud Boys should “stand back and stand by.”
In his trial testimony, Bertino recalled feeling shocked and then excited by Trump’s comments.
“I couldn’t believe the president was talking about our club,” he said. “I thought the club would grow faster at this point.”
Bertino joined Tario at a bar in Washington on the night of the 2020 presidential election. He said he became a “fourth-degree” member of the Proud Boys – the group’s highest rank – after intervening in a bloody brawl that night.
Jurors saw text messages that Bertino and Tario exchanged four days after the election, as news outlets announced Biden’s victory.
“They called it. Now we must unite. Should we go to the State House? Bertino asked.
“Yes,” Tario replied.
For complete coverage of the Capitol riots, visit https://www.apnews.com/capitol-siege
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