The harsh prosecutorial stance toward participants in the Jan. 6, 2021, protest on Capitol Hill has been denounced by many Americans who have contrasted it with the far more permissive approach to those who staged violent and destructive riots across the nation the previous summer.
After prison sentences of a decade or more were handed down for five members of the Proud Boys group for their involvement in the Capitol Hill protest, many conservatives doubled down on their insistence that prosecutors engaged in a double standard.
For the U.S. Department of Justice, however, the lengthy prison terms — including a whopping 22 years behind bars for Enrique Tarrio, who was not in D.C. on the day of the protest — were still not long enough.
Now, the Justice Department is pursuing an appeal that seeks to challenge this and the sentences of four others in hopes of landing them in prison for even longer. Tarrio, along with Ethan Nordean, Joe Biggs, and Zachary Rehl, were convicted of seditious conspiracy.
Dominic Pezzola was spared that conviction but was found guilty of related counts and received the lightest punishment of the group with a 10-year prison sentence.
Details of the Justice Department’s appeal, including the argument in support for longer sentences, were not immediately available. The notice issued on Monday merely represented the agency’s intention to seek stiffer penalties.
The latest development is likely to enhance the existing concerns among critics of the sentences already issued in these cases.
BLM burned down our country for 6 months and most of the protesters had their charges dropped.
Enrique Tarrio was just sentenced to 22 years for Jan 6th and he wasn’t even at the Capitol.
Two tiered justice system. pic.twitter.com/QOPcRuy8SW
— Libs of TikTok (@libsoftiktok) September 6, 2023
Upon announcing Tarrio’s 22-year sentence, which was 11 years shorter than prosecutors had called for, U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly obliquely referenced mounting concerns that the prosecution was politically motivated.
“The jury didn’t convict anyone for engaging in politics, they convicted Mr. Tarrio and others of engaging in seditious conspiracy,” the judge, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, said. “I don’t have any indication that he is remorseful for the actual things he is convicted of, which is seditious conspiracy and conspiracy to obstruct the counting of electoral votes.”
Tarrio did, however, apologize to those who were at the Capitol on the day of the protest and described the event as a “national embarrassment,” telling the court: “I am not a political zealot. Inflicting harm or changing the results of the election was not my goal.”