On May 4, 2023, four Proud Boys leaders — Enrique Tarrio, Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, and Zachary Rehl — were convicted of seditious conspiracy for their role in the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection. A fifth Proud Boy, Dominic Pezzola, was acquitted of the seditious conspiracy charge but found guilty of assaulting a police officer.
About a week after the verdicts were handed down, Zach Rehl, the former head of the Proud Boys’ Philadelphia chapter who filmed the breach of D.C.’s Peace Circle and allegedly yelled “Fuck them. Storm the Capitol!”, called into Infowars to complain about the trial and to ask former president Trump for a pardon.
During the May 12, 2023 episode of The American Journal, host Harrison Smith interviewed Rehl, who is currently incarcerated and awaiting sentencing. Smith told viewers that Rehl and his compatriots were, in his opinion, “falsely convicted,” and asked Rehl how people could assist him.
“I’m worried because we — I know we don’t have too much time and we’re a little limited, and I know people wanna know how they can help you and, just, what’s next for you in the legal process. Is it appeals next, what’s the timeline that we’re lookin’ at?” Smith asked.
“Yes. 100%. We’re definitely looking to take this as far as we need to,” Rehl told Smith. “We’re lookin’ into appeals right now.” Rehl also told viewers they could donate money to fund the appeal through a so-called Christian fundraising site that has allowed Neo-Nazis to use its services.
Rehl also framed his conviction as an attack on the First Amendment’s right to freedom of speech.
As he told Smith, “Sedition is a bad precedent for the First Amendment. It’s a bad precedent for this country. Over in China they quelled the Hong Kong protesters with sedition charges. And when they secured victories with those sedition charges, they went after journalists next.”
Smith also noted that former president Donald Trump, during his much maligned CNN town hall, pledged to pardon a large number of Jan. 6 insurrectionists, and asked Rehl what he would say to Trump if given the opportunity.
“Honestly, I would say [somewhat] similar things that I said to everyone else. Really take a look at what’s happening here. This has nothing to do with any insurrection. There was no insurrection. This is just like I said, an assault on the First Amendment and, like I said, it’s somethin’ that we can’t, as a nation, allow to happen,” he said.
“Otherwise, like President Trump always says, we’re not gonna have a country anymore,” he added, paraphrasing remarks Trump made during his incendiary Jan. 6, 2021 speech.
“And when you destroy the First Amendment, and you allow them to destroy the First Amendment, then the rest of the Amendments are gonna fall like dominos. And it’s the last thing that we wanna happen in this country. And if you get back in office, President Trump if you’re listening, please look into this and really look into pardons and everything like that.”