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Proud Boys Led Major Breaches of Capitol on Jan. 6, Video Investigation Finds

For almost 18 months, the Proud Boys have been at the center of the criminal and congressional investigations of the violent attack on the Capitol last year.

More than 40 members of the Proud Boys, a far-right group, have been indicted in connection with the assault, among them several of its leaders who are now facing charges of seditious conspiracy. The organization was also prominently featured this month at the first hearing of the Jan. 6 House committee, which suggested that the Proud Boys played an instrumental part in fomenting the storming of the Capitol.

Building off the work of online researchers, The New York Times has come up with a newly detailed view of the Proud Boys’ role in instigating the chaos that consumed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. After months of studying video footage of the attack and poring over internal communications by the Proud Boys, The Times has determined that members of the group maneuvered in a coordinated fashion that day in a way that was not previously known and in a manner that was unlike that of the hundreds of other rioters who stormed the building.

The analysis by The Times found a pattern in how the Proud Boys moved on the ground. Over and over, at key moments when the Capitol was breached, the group used the same set of tactics: identifying access points to the building, riling up other protesters and sometimes directly joining in the violence. When met with resistance, leaders of the group reassessed, and teams of Proud Boys targeted new entry points to the Capitol.

Moreover, members of the Proud Boys, following the orders of their leaders, did not wear their typical black-and-yellow uniforms that day. Instead, they intentionally dressed to blend into the crowd and look like other protesters in a way that disguised their actions and — until now — played down their importance in moving the action forward.

Lawyers for the Proud Boys have firmly denied that the group had any prearranged plan to storm the Capitol — let alone to seditiously overthrow the government — and, for the moment, the case of the organization’s former leader, Enrique Tarrio, and four of his subordinates is set to go on trial in Washington in August. As that prosecution moves forward and as other members of the Proud Boys are arrested, more details will surface about the central role the group played on Jan. 6.

But for now, The Times’s video offers the clearest and most comprehensive account.

Reporting was contributed by Haley Willis and Cora Engelbrecht. Produced by Malachy Browne.

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