Federal prosecutors announced Friday that they had indicted two members of the far-right group known as the Proud Boys over their actions during a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
According to a Justice Department press release, 43-year-old Dominic Pezzola and 31-year-old William Pepe, both from New York, were indicted Friday in Washington, D.C. on multiple charges including “conspiracy; civil disorder; unlawfully entering restricted buildings or grounds; and disorderly and disruptive conduct in restricted buildings or grounds.”
Pezzola is also facing charges of obstruction and additional counts of civil disorder, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said.
The pair were first arrested on lesser charges the week after the Capitol attack.
Chaos at the Capitol
According to The Hill, federal prosecutors said the two Proud Boys members “engaged in a conspiracy to obstruct, influence, impede, and interfere with law enforcement officers engaged in their official duties in protecting the U.S. Capitol and its grounds on Jan. 6, 2021,” when a mob of then-President Donald Trump’s supporters rioted in apparent opposition to the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory by Congress.
The attack left five people dead, including one U.S. Capitol Police officer, and two other officers have died by suicide in the weeks since the riot, according to Politico.
In response, the Justice Department is making clear that they won’t leave any stone unturned when it comes to identifying and prosecuting those responsible. The Hill reports that some 170 individuals have been arrested in the wake of the riot, with Pezzola and Pepe only the latest to face charges.
In its press release, the DOJ said Pezzola is alleged to have “confronted a Capitol Police officer attempting to control the crowd and ripped away the officer’s riot shield.” The DOJ added, “Pezzola can be seen on video…using that riot shield to smash a window at the U.S. Capitol.”
Pressed on the issue, Pezzola’s lawyer told The New York Times that “the matter is evolving” and complained that he hadn’t gotten to see his client while the 43-year-old is in custody in Washington.
An attorney for Pepe reportedly declined to comment to the Times.
The two men were said to have both been in possession of “tactical vests branded with the Proud Boys logo, and have attended various Proud Boys gatherings and protests,” the DOJ said. The Proud Boys were described in charging documents as a “pro-Western fraternal organization for men who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world; aka Western Chauvinists.”
According to The New York Times, the Proud Boys “are one of the extremist outfits that had a large presence on Capitol Hill during the assault.” The FBI has also reportedly “started executing search warrants against the group,” the Times revealed.