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Enrique Tarrio, ex-Proud Boys leader, is sentenced to 22 years for his role in Jan. 6

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

Former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio has been sentenced to 22 years in prison for his role in attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Prosecutors have been asking for the far-right figure to serve 33 years. NPR's Odette Yousef is here to discuss more. And Odette, 22 years, can you just start by putting that into some context for us?

ODETTE YOUSEF, BYLINE: Yeah. You know, this is the longest sentence, Juana, that any of the Proud Boys leaders has received in this case. Four of Tarrio's co-defendants received shorter sentences than what prosecutors had been seeking. They were sentenced to between 10 and 18 years, and one other pleaded guilty back in April of last year and has not yet been sentenced. But Tarrio's situation was different from the others in that he wasn't at the Capitol on January 6. He was actually monitoring events remotely from a hotel room in Baltimore. And his lawyer throughout the case was trying to redirect blame for what happened that day, laying it at the feet of Donald Trump, saying that Tarrio was a scapegoat. But just before sentencing, Tarrio today acknowledged that Trump lost the election, and he expressed regret for what he did. But, you know, Judge Timothy Kelly wasn't buying that. He noted that before today, Tarrio did not show remorse, and ultimately that drove the judge's concern that this sentence would need to have a truly deterring effect.

SUMMERS: OK. And I mean, this trial began more than two years ago, and Tarrio was in jail throughout that time. And now he's looking at spending additional time in prison. How significant is this to the continued operation of the Proud Boys?

YOUSEF: Honestly, Juana, this is not significant to the group's activities anymore. And that's because the organization's really changed its operational structure and its organizing tactics after January 6. Here's Cassie Miller of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

CASSIE MILLER: This is not going to be the end of the Proud Boys by any means. You know, they have adapted quite well to the post-January 6 landscape, and they remain active - organizing, recruiting. Arguably, their membership has grown in the aftermath of the insurrection. And this authoritarian movement that they are a part of has continued to grow as well.

SUMMERS: I mean, Odette, hearing her describe there a growing authoritarian movement, what does she mean by that?

YOUSEF: So, you know, the Proud Boys really started as a street fighting gang, Juana, that claimed just to want to go and rough up anti-fascist activists in the streets. But now they have fused into a hard-right movement that is propelled by disinformation and that has increasingly come to see violence against perceived enemies as justifiable. So, you know, we're looking at a broader movement that really the Department of Justice isn't capable of reining in through cases related to January 6 participants anymore. You know, confronting this is going to take more of, like, a whole-of-society approach.

SUMMERS: That's NPR national security correspondent Odette Yousef. Thank you.

YOUSEF: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Odette Yousef
Odette Yousef is a National Security correspondent focusing on extremism.