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SENTENCING OF PROUD BOYS MEMBERS AND CLASHING OF RIVAL ERITREAN GROUPS IN CALGARY

August 31-September 6, 2023 | Issue 30 - NORTHCOM Team

Martina Pagani, Hae Lim Park, Victoria Valová, Chloe Woodbine

Christina Valdez, Editor; Radhika Ramalinga Venkatachalam, Senior Editor


Proud Boys[1]


Date: August 31, 2023

Location: USA

Parties involved: USA; US Department of Justice (DOJ); US government; US District Judge Timothy Kelly; former US president, Donald J. Trump; far-right extremist group, Proud Boys; ex-Proud Boys leader, Henry Tarrio; former top lieutenant of the Proud Boys, Joseph Bigg; former leader of the Philadelphia Proud Boys, Zachary Rehl; far-right social media apps; social media platform, Gab; social media platform, Telegram; social media platform, Parler

The event: Biggs and Rehl were sentenced to 17 and 15 years in prison during the DOJ’s investigations into the January 6, 2021 Capitol attack. Biggs was convicted of seditious conspiracy, conspiring to obstruct Congress, and inciting civil disorder, but was cleared of charges of assaulting officers and destroying government property. The prosecutors asked Kelly to sentence Biggs to 33 years in prison for using force and threats to sway government decisions.[2] Tarrio has been sentenced to 22 years for orchestrating the attack.[3] Proud Boys communicated and planned the Capitol attack through the use of social media.[4]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Proud Boys members will very likely continue to engage in violent activities against the government, specifically, those involved with the sentencing of its former members. Violent activities will likely increase with the upcoming 2024 elections and Trump’s conviction. The Proud Boys will very likely continue to cause civil disorder and plan far-right protests, likely gathering in front of government facilities.

  • Following the sentencing of Tarrio, a new leader will almost certainly be appointed as a strategic response. There is a roughly even chance the new leadership will alter the group’s behavior and approach to planning demonstrations, as different strategies, goals, and priorities emerge. There is a roughly even chance that new leadership will change how the group interacts with law enforcement, adopting a less confrontational stance toward the authorities.

  • Social media companies that are removing accounts associated with the Proud Boys will very unlikely stop the Proud Boys from communicating. Proud Boys will very likely continue their online presence on alternative social media platforms including Gab, Telegram, and Parler. These alternative platforms and other far-right apps will almost certainly be used to recruit new members and to plan future protests and attacks.


Date: September 2, 2023

Location: Falconridge, Calgary, Canada

Parties involved: Canadian Eritrean community leaders; supporters of the Eritrean government in Canada; opponents of the Eritrean government in Canada; Eritrean diaspora in Canada; Canadian law enforcement; Canadian emergency medical services (EMS); Canadian event organizers

The event: A violent conflict involving around 150 individuals broke out between the supporters and opponents of the Eritrean government. Two rival Eritrean groups, wearing T-shirts with the current and former Eritrean flags, brandished weapons and used bats and long sticks during the conflict. Several people were transported to hospitals with minor injuries.[5] Confrontations between the rivals have also erupted in Edmonton and Toronto, and outside Canada, in Israel, Germany, and Sweden in previous months.[6]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Violence at events organized by the Eritrean diaspora will likely increase. Unresolved tensions and conflicts within the community will very likely result in violence at upcoming Eritrean events. Event organizers will likely collaborate with local law enforcement to increase security measures, while continuing to accommodate different viewpoints on propaganda and alleged financing of the Eritrean government. Efforts to prevent violence will almost certainly depend on the level of engagement and cooperation among community leaders, and members of the rival groups.

  • Canadian EMS will likely take a proactive approach to prepare for potential medical needs arising from violence at Eritrean events. EMS will likely establish specialized medical response teams trained to handle a range of injuries. Pre-positioned ambulances and medical personnel will likely be strategically placed at these events to ensure rapid response to any medical emergencies.

  • Law enforcement will likely take proactive steps to enhance security and safety at events, in response to potential violence and the presence of weapons. Canadian law enforcement agencies will very likely conduct a comprehensive risk assessment including evaluating potential threats to local property and Eritrean nationals, and vulnerabilities associated with the events. The agencies will almost certainly deploy a higher number of patrol officers at event venues and coordinate emergency response plans.

 

[2] Proud Boys Joseph Biggs and Zachary Rehl sentenced in Jan. 6 case for seditious conspiracy, CBS News, August 2023, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/proud-boys-jan-6-joseph-biggs-sentenced-seditious-conspiracy/a

[3] Ex-Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio jailed for 22 years for Capitol riot, BBC News, September 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-66712589

[4] Prosecutors: Proud Boys Gave Leader 'War Powers,' Planned Ahead For Capitol Riot, NPR, March 2021 https://www.npr.org/2021/03/02/972895521/prosecutors-proud-boys-gave-leader-war-powers-planned-ahead-for-capitol-riot

[5] 'All hell was breaking loose': Rival Eritrean groups clash in northeast Calgary Saturday night, CTV News Calgary, September 2023, https://calgary.ctvnews.ca/all-hell-was-breaking-loose-rival-eritrean-groups-clash-in-northeast-calgary-saturday-night-1.6546333

[6] Rival Eritrean groups clash in Israel, leaving dozens hurts in worst confrontation in recent memory, AP News, September 2023, https://apnews.com/article/israel-eritreans-protest-asylum-seekers-clashes-4e9824a25b635ee0fd669fb1b31d7a62

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