Proud Boys’ Views on Violence Take Center Stage at Jan. 6 Trial

“If violence did happen, it was celebrated,” Mr. Greene said, “and people were encouraged for having responded in kind from someone attacking them or whatever it is. That’s where I got my expectation: from the people around me.”

Early in his testimony, Mr. Greene challenged another one of the Proud Boys’ oft-repeated statements about violence: that the group’s members never seek out aggression, but merely react to it.

He told the jury how a large group of Proud Boys went in search of conflict with their leftist adversaries in the antifa movement on Dec. 11, 2020, one night before they were to take part in a pro-Trump rally in Washington.

“When we were marching around, we were looking for antifa,” he testified. “We were trying to get as close as possible, come face to face with them. And when we did find them, we were trying to goad them into physical confrontation.”

In fact, the confrontation came the next evening — on Dec. 12 — when, as the jury has repeatedly heard, Mr. Tarrio and several other Proud Boys stole a Black Lives Matter banner from a local church and burned it in the streets. Not long after, the Proud Boys engaged in a violent scuffle with antifa protesters and some of their own members were stabbed.

Prosecutors plan to use that incident to show the jury how the Proud Boys turned against the police after years of having troublingly close relationships with officers across the country. The government wants to demonstrate that the group became disillusioned, believing that law enforcement had failed to protect it, to explain the events of Jan. 6 when Proud Boys took the lead in assaulting the police.

But while the jury has been told about some of the Proud Boys’ violent episodes, it has not heard about all of them. Last week, Jason McCullough, the lead prosecutor in the case, told Judge Timothy J. Kelly without the jury present that the government had purposefully not sought to introduce evidence of the group’s prior acts of aggression — which, he noted, were extensive.


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