A former member of the far-right Proud Boys told a jury that the group viewed the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol as the start of the “next American Revolution.”
The Proud Boys were “desperate” to stop former President Donald Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election, the former member of the extremist group said.
Proud Boys leaders plotted to violently prevent President Joe Biden from taking office because they were trying to “save the country” from what they feared would be a tyrannical government.
Jeremy Bertino is a key government witness in the seditious conspiracy case against former Proud Boys national leader Enrique Tarrio and four associates. He was a top lieutenant of Tarrio.
He believed an “all-out revolution” was brewing in the days before a mob of Trump supporters attacked the Capitol.
Bertino said he thinks the revolution ultimately failed because law-enforcement officers quelled the deadly riot and Congress reconvened to certify Biden’s 2020 electoral victory.
Bertino pleaded guilty to his own seditious conspiracy charge last year. As part of his plea deal, he agreed to cooperate with the government.
His testimony this week gave jurors an insider’s view of the Proud Boys’ leadership as Jan. 6 approached and the group became increasingly convinced that the Biden presidency posed an existential threat.
Bertino, a regional leader for the group, was not present at the Capitol on the day of the riot after he was injured in a stabbing in Washington, D.C., in December 2020. For the jury, he recalled how excited he was to see images of the riot scroll across his screen, and was angry that he wasn’t able to be there.
“I thought it was historical,” he testified. “I thought this is where the revolution was starting.”
Bertino’s jubilance turned into fury after Trump told rioters to go home and law enforcement cleared the Capitol.
In a voice message to the group, Bertino said: “We need fucking war. We need to take it back. And we need to fucking get these motherfuckers. Judge, jury, executioner, we need to fucking hang traitors.”
“You ready to go full fash?” asked Proud Boy leader John Stewart in response, referring to fascism.
The entire trial — perhaps the most crucial to emerging from the Jan. 6 attack — may hinge on whether jurors believe Bertino’s testimony.
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