Proud Boys' 'Leader on the Ground' Sentenced

Ethan Nordean's prison term equals longest given so far in Jan. 6 attack
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 1, 2023 5:16 PM CDT
Proud Boy's Sentence Equals Longest So Far
Ethan Nordean of the Proud Boys walks toward the US Capitol in Washington in support of then-President Donald Trump on Jan. 6, 2021.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

A onetime leader in the Proud Boys far-right extremist group has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for his role in the Jan. 6 riot at the US Capitol, tying the longest sentence imposed so far in the attack. Ethan Nordean was one of several members convicted of spearheading the attack to try to prevent the peaceful transfer of power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden after the 2020 presidential election. Nordean was "the undisputed leader on the ground on Jan. 6," said prosecutor Jason McCullough, per the AP.

Prosecutors had asked US District Judge Timothy Kelly to sentence the Seattle-area chapter president to 27 years. They said Nordean's words and online posting grew increasingly violent leading up to Jan. 6. On that day, he led a group of nearly 200 men toward the Capitol, then moved to the front of the mob and helped tear down a fence, allowing rioters to enter the grounds, according to court documents. Defense attorneys have argued there was no plan to storm the Capitol that day and pushed back on the idea that he tore down the fence or that his rhetoric was specifically about Jan. 6.

Nordean, 33, of Auburn, Washington, says he now sees Jan. 6 as a "complete and utter tragedy." He added: "There is no rally or political protest that should hold value over human life. To anyone who I directly or even indirectly wronged, I'm sorry." The previous record for a Jan. 6 sentence belonged to Stewart Rhodes, founder of another far-right extremist group, the Oath Keepers. More than 1,100 people have been charged with Capitol riot-related federal crimes. Over 600 of them have been convicted and sentenced. (Codefendant Dominic Pezzola also was sentenced on Friday.)

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