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Jan. 17, 2021, 5:06 p.m. EST

Prior to Capitol riot, Proud Boys took Trump’s words as call to action

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By Georgia Wells, Rebecca Ballhaus and Keach Hagey

On Jan. 3, three days before the attack on the Capitol, Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the far-right organization known as the Proud Boys, shared a cryptic post on the messaging app Telegram: “What if we invade it?”

The message was sent to his more than 7,000 followers on the app, with the first reply reading “January 6th is D day in America.”

The Wall Street Journal reviewed thousands of posts from the Proud Boys and their members across Parler, Telegram and Gab, the social-media platforms where they rallied supporters online after mostly being banned from Facebook /zigman2/quotes/205064656/composite FB +0.87% and Twitter /zigman2/quotes/203180645/composite TWTR -5.80% . The messages show the group repeatedly invoking President Donald Trump’s rhetoric in the weeks leading to the Jan. 6 protest as they built momentum toward what became a violent showdown.

Investigators have said they are scrutinizing online messages like these as they attempt to determine the planning and intent of those involved in the attack on the Capitol.

The Journal’s review, which included now-deleted posts that have been archived by researchers, suggests the Proud Boys viewed Trump’s messages as a call to action.

On Parler, where the group’s official account had more than 340,000 followers before the platform went offline last week, Tarrio said on Dec. 29 that the Proud Boys would be able to put a thousand “boots on the ground” and “turn out in record numbers on Jan. 6.”

In December, after Trump tweeted about the Jan. 6 rally and said to “be there, will be wild,” the Long Island chapter of the Proud Boys posted that Trump supporters have been “waiting for the green light from the President.”

“Everyone who said ‘Mr. President, just say when?’ He just did,” the post said.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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