Zuny Tarrio Says Her Son Has Been Treated Like a Terrorist

  • by:
  • Source: UncoverDC
  • 09/22/2023

Enrique Tarrio either has magical powers or very long arms because he was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison for seditious conspiracy and crimes that would have required him to be in D.C. in order to actually commit them. The problem is that Tarrio was in Baltimore at the time.

One of the alleged "crimes" he committed from his hotel room in Maryland was to shake a temporary fence on the Capitol grounds. One of his co-defendants actually did that. None of the Proud Boys assaulted officers or brought weapons to D.C. Turns out Judge Kelly's absurd instructions to the jury for seditious conspiracy influenced their verdict.

Notably, seditious conspiracy carries a maximum sentence of 20 years. Tarrio's is the longest sentence delivered to a J6 defendant so far. It is so sad to think about the fact that if he serves his entire sentence he will be over 60 years old. Joseph Biggs, Ethan Nordean, Zachary Rehl, and Dominic Pezzola are co-defendants in the Proud Boys case and have also received long sentences.


LawfareBlogProudBoys/Parloff timeline

The government believes the Proud Boys carefully orchestrated and carried out a plot to attack the Capitol on Jan. 6. However, there is scant evidence proving they conspired and orchestrated much of anything. Instead, most of their planning seems to be limited to protected speech under the First Amendment. No doubt that some of the rhetoric was animated and strong. Tarrio allegedly created a "private" Telegram group called the “Ministry of Self Defense”—or “MOSD" on Dec. 29, 2020. The following is an excerpt from Tarrio's sentencing memorandum. There is no evidence proving the group "literally led the attack on the Capitol."

Tarrio/ProudBoys Sentencing Memorandum/Government

The longer sentences are a result of government-recommended terrorism enhancements. Prosecutors claimed Tarrio and his cohorts destroyed government property and called the protesters "Revolutionaries," proof they were terrorists. The government contends Tarrio was in a "clear leadership role," which allegedly proves he was coordinating everything for months behind the scenes.

Points were also added for his rhetoric on social media during the protests. At one point, Tarrio allegedly stated, "Liberty" comes "[w]hen the government fears the people," according to the government's sentencing memorandum filed on Aug. 17, 2023. This was the type of rhetoric that led the court and the government to allege the "attack" on the Capitol was every bit as bad as 9/11. Ultimately Tarrio was charged with six counts, including seditious conspiracy. The government recommended that Tarrio be incarcerated for 33 years.

Tarrio/Aug. 17 Sentencing Memorandum/Government

Again, Tarrio was in Baltimore, Maryland on Jan. 6 obeying an order to stay out of D.C. for his part in the burning of a BLM banner at a Black church in late 2020. Tarrio claims he didn't know it was a Black church and his actions were not racist in nature. He admitted to lighting one of two banners on fire because members of BLM had been burning down cities and terrorizing Americans. Tarrio, who is the former chair of the "far-right" group was arrested for the Dec. 12, 2020 incident on Jan. 4.

On Wednesday, UncoverDC spoke with Tarrio's mom Zuny Duarte Tarrio, a Cuban-American immigrant living in Florida. Her family moved to the U.S. when she was two years old. Zuny attended Tarrio's five-month jury trial, only missing a total of 4-5 days because of illness.

Zuny says Judge Kelly and the D.C. jury "seemed to be on a mission" to prove they were all guilty of plotting a violent attack at the Capitol. She says her son is "completely against what some were doing on Jan. 6," destruction, violence, etc. However, he is not afraid to speak up when he sees injustice. In contrast with the BLM and Antifa riots in 2020, it has become clear there is no free speech defense in J6 cases.

In fact, the Proud Boys' trial, according to Julie Kelly, was marred by controversy including last-minute disclosures of numerous FBI informants; open hostility between the judge and defense attorneys; the accidental discovery of explosive messages between FBI agents discussing deleted evidence, a doctored report, and the surveillance of attorney-client jailhouse communications; multiple sightings in evidence of the still-uncharged Ray Epps; a convoluted appellate ruling on the legitimacy of a key charge in the case; and suspicions of a jury stalker." Tensions during the trial were often high and at times the government misled the defense.

"There was no conspiracy," said Zuny. "There was no plan. But from the moment we started the trial in December of 2022, we were doomed because the trial was in D.C. The government tried to say he was going back and forth on Telegram and in emails but in many cases, he never even opened the emails. The government has been given the weapons and they are using them against people at their own will." The government maintained it only needed to prove he participated in a “seditious conspiracy, not seditious plan.” 

When asked how Enrique is feeling about his sentence Zuny explained he is concerned about the direction of the country. "Enrique believed in justice. We didn't get it. It doesn't exist. He is unsure of the future and wonders how it all is going to end up." Tarrio has been in jail for two years and has had a long time to think about what is important. In a conversation with Kyle Seraphin in early September Tarrio says he isn't feeling patriotic anymore. He said he is serving 22 years for "wrong think and speech." He also told Seraphin that people who broke things or assaulted police should pay the consequences for their actions.

Tarrio may have gotten a lesser sentence had he accepted a plea deal. However, according to Zuny, her son "was not going to say he was at fault for something he wasn't. And he wasn't going to throw other people, including Trump, under the bus. The government wanted him to lie. It was all a lie. He has no regrets."

Tarrio was arrested by the FBI on March 8, 2022, and treated like a "terrorist" during a no-knock raid in Florida. Since then, Tarrio has been repeatedly shuffled around in the prison system, parked in multiple jails and prisons around the country.

Some of the most difficult months were while he was in Alexandria. According to Zuny, he "was in solitary confinement for months and months on a 22-2 lockdown. He survived, by reading books and the Dictionary." He has been in the D.C. jail with about 35 other J6 detainees since a few weeks before his sentencing. But Zuny told UncoverDC that he and the other Proud Boys are being moved today. According to Zuny "They need to be moved because they have to go to a federal facility in order to be assigned to their final destination."

The moves are upsetting to Zuny and extremely difficult for Tarrio. When he is moved, all of his letters and personal belongings are confiscated. She said he feels "very anxious whenever he is moved."

"Enrique and the Proud Boys are being used," according to Zuny, as "the face of Jan. 6." She believes her son has been demonized in ways he does not deserve. "Enrique is a good soul. But I didn't know how much he was loved until all this started. I wasn't aware of how many people he had touched during all of this. This has been eye-opening for me." 

When asked how her son is feeling about his sentence, Zuny said she is proud of the way he is handling himself. But it has been very difficult for all involved.

"He's keeping up pretty good. He has his days like everyone else. Overall, I think there's something inside of him that says something here has to give. There's here's no way I'm going to be in here for 22 years for something I did not do or that I didn't create.

There has been no justice for my son. Our freedom of speech has been killed by this administration and the DOJ.

There's no way there can be this much injustice in the world. God has to see something. Something has to give. I can't believe my son is going to be in prison for that long. I don't even want to think about that.

I’m just a Mom who would change places with my Son in an instant. I have lived a 
a good life and my son has so much more to live and so much to do for his fellow Americans."

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