Celebrate the Facts!
Harry ‘Enrique’ Tarrio is a member of a group of social media actors who exploit and profit from their criminal and near-criminal conduct. Formerly a petty thief and perpetual underachiever, Tarrio became a co-founder of a white nationalist group called the Proud Boys. The FBI arrested Tarrio in Miami and charged him crimes related to the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the United States Capitol. Tarrio, a serial felon, has flipped before, and the United States Department of Justice will undoubtedly pressure him to flip again, provided he has meaningful information.
Tarrio, of Cuban descent, grew up in a dominantly Cuban area of Miami and is reasonably well-educated, with an undergraduate degree from the University of Miami. That sounds like an excellent launch to a middle-class lifestyle, but there is a much darker side to Tarrio, as he engaged in sequential criminal behavior descending toward his current situation.
Miami-Dade County successfully prosecuted Tarrio in 2004, when he was 20, on grand theft and dealing in stolen property for stealing a $55,000 motorcycle. The judge sentenced Tarrio to three years' probation, including community service and payment of restitution. Unfortunately, diversion and rehabilitation are not the forte of the American criminal justice system. In this case, it appears the system washed their hands of Tarrio, and unfortunately, the slap on Tarrio’s wrist failed to divert his maladaptive behavior.
Tarrio seems to have buckled down and graduated in 2009 graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in business. It is unlikely the University of Miami will ever feature him on their distinguished alumni lists. Tarrio represents he was District Manager of Nextel from 2003 to 2006. Tarrio’s LinkedIn profile says that he has been Chief Executive Officer at Spie Surveillance and Automation Technologies since that time.
The company’s rustic website claims it provides automated security system services. Given its amateurish presentation, one has trouble believing Tarrio generated much revenue via this avenue. Tarrio is the registered agent for several corporate entities in Florida, including Spie Security LLC, Fund the West LLC, Proudboys LLC, and Warboys LLC.
The FBI arrested Tarrio in 2013 and charged him with misbranding medical devices and possession of, conspiracy to sell, and transferring stolen goods. Tarrio and two other men re-labeled and sold diabetes test kits. Tarrio pleaded guilty and served 16 months in federal prison. The government cut his sentence almost in half because of his ‘substantial assistance in the prosecution of others.’ In other words, Tarrio flipped on his co-conspirators to garner a reduced sentence. Tarrio worked undercover for investigators after his arrest to earn the reduced sentence.
Despite his felony record, Tarrio ran for a seat in the United States House of Representatives in 2020 in Florida's 27th congressional district and withdrew. He also obtained $15,000 in paycheck protection program loans in 2021.
Tarrio created a special chapter of the Proud Boys known as the Ministry of Self Defense. VICE Media co-founder Gavin McInnes founded the Proud Boys in 2016. The Proud Boys are a males-only group of self-described ‘Western chauvinists.’ Proud Boys members appeared conjointly with other extremist hate groups, including at the ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. In February 2021, the Canadian government designated the Proud Boys as a terrorist entity, citing the role the group played in the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. Members of the group espouse misogynistic, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, and white supremacist ideologies and associate with white supremacist groups.
Tarrio’s presentation, like the rest of the Proud Boys, is macho and militaristic. Tarrio’s branding includes a baseball cap, wraparound shades, and paramilitary gear. Tarrio is slight of build, bald, and has a potbelly, so underneath the costume, he is anything but imposing, like many of his overweight colleagues in white nationalist movements.
Two days before a mob of white trash stormed the United States Capitol Building in January 2021, Metropolitan Police in Washington, D.C. arrested Tarrio for a December 2020 incident in which he burned a Black Lives Matter flag, stolen from a historic Black church. Tarrio admitted to burning the flag, torn down from Asbury United Methodist, a misdemeanor crime. Prosecutors also charged Tarrio charged with weapons violations for possessing high-capacity firearm magazines. Tarrio publicly admitted he burned the flag, saying, ‘I didn’t do it out of hate ... I did it out of love.’ Tarrio, in this statement, either appears to be delusional or an inveterate liar, but the combination of the two traits is likely.
The Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church filed on Tarrio and the Proud Boys for stealing a Black Lives Matter sign, identifying the act as a hate crime in a related civil suit. Regardless of a prison sentence, one might surmise that should the plaintiff prevail and get a damage claim; they will hobble both Tarrio and the Proud Boys in any future endeavors.
The Department of Justice indicted Tarrio on conspiracy and other charges related to the January 6, 2021 insurrection, and the FBI arrested Tarrio on March 8, 2022. In addition, the DOJ named him in a superseding formal indictment in the District of Columbia, including five previously charged defendants.
Tarrio and his co-defendants, all of whom were leaders or members of the Ministry of Self Defense, conspired to corruptly obstruct, influence, and impede an official proceeding, the certification of the Electoral College vote. The formal accusation says the defendants directed, mobilized, and led crowd members onto the Capitol grounds and into the Capitol, leading to dismantling of metal barricades, destruction of property, and assaults on law enforcement.
American society is dissonant in its reward and punishment systems. The nation's laws prohibit many antisocial and criminal behaviors, while much of its economic system arguably rewards such endeavors. A media system now dominated by social media and Infotainment is hungry for clicks and views and viewers and followers and reward inflammatory conduct with money. The best provocateurs such as Roger Stone, Steve Bannon, Tucker Carlson, and Mark Levin skate toward the edge of legality but remain relatively invulnerable from criminal prosecution and enrich themselves in the process.
The second tier of such folks, such as Alex Jones of Infowars and alt-right leader Richard Spencer get quite a bit closer to peril and, through their lack of insight and intelligence, gather gobs of civil judgments but stay out of prison through guile and luck.
The tertiary set of actors lacks the intelligence or self-control to manage their careers in the Hate-industrial complex and seem to run afoul of the law and face lengthy times alone in prison to reflect on their misdeeds. White nationalists cleverly insulate leaders from actual criminal acts by establishing cells and ‘leaderless resistance.’ Actors such as Tarrio and Elmer ‘Stewart’ Rhodes forgot this page from that playbook. Barring the reelection of Donald Trump in 2024, convictions in these cases send these guys to prison for a long time.
The consequences of the Trump presidency continue to reverberate through society. The reckoning with the results of the confluence of the awakening of racism among white Americans, the realities of the post-Caucasian United States, stagnant real incomes, and economic stagnation have yet to come.
The unfortunate reality is that most Americans face these brutal realities yet seem unable to talk about how to fix them. A corporate social and conventional media system that harvests the profits from the hate it fosters is unlikely to change until that becomes unprofitable. Social media systems gear algorithms designed to feed extremist views to audiences already inclined to consume them to help sell more advertisement revenue in the name of ‘shareholder value.’ These algorithms create an echo chamber of editorializing often absent facts that reinforces but does not challenge such views.
Tarrio seems more a pathetic and maladjusted person inclined to petty thievery than a revolutionary figure. Despite his claims of Afro-Latin ancestry and declaiming racist viewpoints, he is a leader of a white nationalist group that is all-male, proudly misogynistic, and racist, so by default, despite his statements, he is a white nationalist. He is also a serial convicted felon and looking at a long stretch in federal prison.
The DOJ is undoubtedly looking to flip Tarrio once again. They know his psychology and have flipped him before. Tarrio claimed indigence in his initial hearing, and the court appointed a public defender to represent him and absent some right-wing benefactor’s funding for a private attorney; Tarrio will get the defense he pays for. The DOJ will deal with Tarrio if he has meaningful information. Should Tarrio flip, the next one up the food chain could be more interesting.
Michael Donnelly investigates societal concerns with an untribal approach - to limit the discussion to the facts derived from primary sources so the reader can make more informed decisions.