Proud Boys deployed tactical measures in coordinated attack on the Capitol, court documents say

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In this Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 file photo Ethan Nordean, with backward baseball hat and bullhorn, leads members of the far-right group Proud Boys in marching before the riot at the U.S. Capitol. AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster,File
  • Court documents detailed the weeks-long planning by Proud Boys members ahead of January 6.

  • Members of the far-right group were told to dress "incognito" and split up to avoid detection.

  • Prior to the siege, members discussed their hope to turn "normies" or non-Proud Boys loose on the Capitol.

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As Donald Trump was delivering his now infamous speech to supporters on the afternoon of January 6, members of the far-right white nationalist group, the Proud Boys, weren't among the thousands of pro-Trump demonstrators listening in the crowd, according to new court documents.

The Proud Boys had already set off for the US Capitol building. They arrived at the east side of the building before noon - more than an hour before Trump finished a speech that would later spur accusations of incitement.

While the majority of Trump supporters in DC that day were listening to the incendiary words of the departing president, the Proud Boys, wearing dark colors, positioned themselves strategically across the Capitol campus to avoid detection, prosecutors say.

They "were not present for any part of the speech, because hearing the speech was not in their plan," legal documents said.

Members of the neo-fascist group spent months fundraising for and planning the group's participation in the Capitol assault, according to a pre-trial detention filing made on Monday for one of the organization's leaders, Ethan Nordean.

The court documents detail how the group, lacking their leader Enrique Tarrio - who was arrested in DC days before the siege - empowered new members, including Nordean.

A local and national Proud Boys leader based in Seattle, Nordean was reportedly nominated by fellow members to have "war powers" and to take "ultimate leadership of the Proud Boys' activities on January 6, 2021."

As early as November 4, Nordean and fellow Proud Boys leaders took to social media in anger over the election, which they believed was stolen, and encouraged both Proud Boys and Proud Boys supporters to join the group in preventing the certification of the Electoral College results, the filing said.

"We tried playing nice and by the rules, now you will deal with the monster you created. The spirit of 1776 has resurfaced and has created groups like the Proudboys and we will not be extinguished. We will grow like the flame that fuels us and spread like love that guides us. We are unstoppable, unrelenting and now....unforgiving," Nordean posted on November 27.

Nordean also used his social media following to encourage his supporters to donate money, tactical vests, and other military-style equipment that Proud Boys members could use for the January 6 attack. For weeks leading up to the siege, Nordean communicated with various individuals who said they could provide funding, protective gear, and even bear mace to the group.

On the morning of January 6, the Proud Boys gathered at the Washington Monument, carrying Baofeng radios - devices made by a Chinese communication equipment manufacturer that are known for being more difficult to monitor or overhear than regular walkie talkies. The night before, members had been instructed to wear plain clothes and to avoid the colors typically worn by Proud Boys.

Nordean, dressed in all black and wearing a tactical vest, instructed his fellow members on how to use encrypted communications and the military-style equipment they had acquired. He then issued specific orders: "split up into groups, attempt to break into the Capitol building from as many different points as possible, and prevent the Joint Session of Congress from Certifying the Electoral College results," prosecutors said.

When they reached the Capitol building, the Proud Boys did just as they had been instructed. Spread across the campus en masse, members of the organization - along with a growing number of other pro-Trump protesters - forced their way through Capitol Police officers and metal barriers.

It was a Proud Boy - Dominic Pezzola - who broke open a window with a riot shield he had taken from an officer earlier that day. Pezzola has been kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day while he awaits his trial, Politico reported. He is one of the growing number of Capitol rioters arrested that day who have publicly blamed Trump for their participation in the siege.

According to court documents, prior to the assault, certain Proud Boys had discussed their hope to turn the "normies," or non-Proud Boys, loose on January 6, "to incite and inspire them to 'burn that city to ash today,' and 'smash some pigs to dust.'"

In the filing, prosecutors argue that Nordean poses a serious flight risk and danger to the community. Allowing him pretrial release, they argue, would allow him to plan, fundraise for, equip, and lead a group in another attack, a danger that is "unfortunately, quite real."

When officials executed a search warrant against Nordean, they discovered a valid US passport issued to someone who looked like Nordean, the filing said, but none for Nordean himself. Prosecutors said Nordean's explanation for the document's existence in his home was "absurd."

Nordean told the agents that his wife had kept her ex-boyfriend's passport as a keepsake and brought the document to the home she now shared with Nordean, where she "just happened" to store the keepsake with her own passport on Nordean's side of the bed.

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