Proud Boys from First Wave of Capitol Rioters to Enter Building Charged

Members of the far-right street fighting Proud Boys organization have been charged in relation to the storming of the U.S. Capitol earlier this month, with prosecutors alleging two members worked together to obstruct law enforcement trying to defend the building as lawmakers certified the results of the November election.

The Department of Justice said Friday that two Proud Boy members have been indicted in Washington, D.C. "for conspiring to obstruct law enforcement, among other charges."

Dominic Pezzola, 43, of Rochester, New York, and William Pepe, 31, of Beacon, New York, were named as the two Proud Boys members. They were charged with conspiracy; civil disorder; unlawfully entering restricted buildings or grounds; and disorderly and disruptive conduct in restricted buildings or grounds.

Pezzola was also indicted for obstruction of an official proceeding, robbery of personal property of the United States, assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers, destruction of government property, among other charges.

Pezzola and Pepe were part of the first wave of rioters to smash their way into the Capitol building, sending lawmakers fleeing the chambers to safety. Some of those who entered the building are believed to have been planning to kidnap or even kill politicians. One police officer and one rioter were killed in the breaching of the building, while another three demonstrators died from medical emergencies.

Pezzola and Pepe are accused of helping remove metal barricades outside the Capitol and stealing Capitol Police property. Pezzola is also alleged to have attacked a police officer and taken their riot shield. He was later identified in several videos smashing Capitol building windows with a police riot shield.

Police raided Pezzola's home when he was arrested on January 15, finding a thumb drive containing PDF manuals for homemade bombs, firearms and poisons.

"The defendant's actions show planning, determination, and coordination," the court documents said. "His stated desire to commit further acts of violence, combined with his access to weapons-and-bomb-making manuals, is extremely concerning."

Charging documents describe the Proud Boys group as a "pro-Western fraternal organization for men who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world; aka Western Chauvinists." Proud Boys, often identifiable by their yellow and black clothes, have been involved in many violent incidents in several major cities in recent years, including armed assaults.

Proud Boys have been involved in many confrontations with anti-fascist activists, colloquially known as Antifa. Proud Boys were staunch supporters of President Donald Trump, and advocate for authoritarianism to suppress liberalism and socialism.

The group shot to national prominence during the presidential election campaign, when Trump refused to denounce them. The former president told the group to "stand back and stand by" when asked to condemn white supremacist groups operating in his name.

More than 170 people have now been charged in relation to the Capitol riot, The New York Times reported. Most are charged with minor crimes, but three additional conspiracy charges have been brought against members of the far-right Oath Keepers militia group. They are alleged to have been preparing for the January 6 riot in Washington, D.C. as early as one week after the November election.

Proud Boys member with flag in Richmond
A man carries a "Proud Boys" flag, referring to the far-right political organization that promotes and engages in political violence, near the state Capitol on January 18, in Richmond, Virginia. Eze Amos/Getty Images/Getty