WASHINGTON — A member of the Proud Boys, a nationalist organization, was arrested today and charged in federal court in the District of Columbia with obstructing or impeding an official proceeding, among other charges.
Ethan Nordean, aka Rufio Panman, 30, of Washington state, was charged by criminal complaint in federal court in the District of Columbia with obstructing or impeding an official proceeding, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison; aiding and abetting, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison; and knowingly entering or remaining in restricted building or grounds and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, which each carry a maximum penalty of one year in prison. Nordean will appear in federal court in the Western District of Washington at 2:00 PST.
According to charging documents, Nordean is the self-described “Sergeant of Arms” of the Seattle Chapter of the Proud Boys, a group self-described as a “pro-Western fraternal organization for men who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world; aka Western Chauvinists.”
It is alleged that Nordean was observed marching at the front of a group of known Proud Boys shortly before the riot began. It is further alleged that Nordean was among those who entered the U.S. Capitol building after rioters, including certain persons associated with the Proud Boys, forced entry into the Capitol by means of destruction of Federal property. It is also alleged that Nordean was near the front of the crowd of rioters, who collectively approached, confronted, and vastly outnumbered Capitol Police.
Prior to Jan. 6, 2021, Nordean posted on social media certain indications of an intent to organize a group that intended to engage in conflict. For example, around Dec. 27, 2020, Nordean posted a message asking for donations of “protective gear” and “communications equipment.” On Jan. 4, 2021, Nordean posted a video on social media, which he captioned, “Let them remember the day they decided to make war with us.”
On or about the same day, Nordean posted a video of a discussion that Nordean had with another member of the Proud Boys. During the course of the hour long video, Nordean discussed what he described as “blatant, rampant voter fraud” in the Presidential election. Nordean went on to say that, rather than being complacent, the Proud Boys were going to “bring back that original spirit of 1776 of what really established the character of what America is. And it’s not complacency, it’s not low standards. It’s ‘this is how it’s going to be, and I don’t give a god damn.’” Later in the video, Nordean said, “Democracy is dead? Well, then no peace for you. No democracy, no peace.”
The day before the riots, Nordean posted the following statement to social media: “It is apparent now more than ever, that if you are a patriot, you will be targeted and they will come after you, funny thing is that they don’t realize is, is we are coming for them. You’ve chosen your side, black and yellow teamed with red, white and blue against everyone else.”
On Jan. 8, 2021, Nordean posted a photo on social media of a U.S. Capitol Police officer administering pepper spray on Jan. 6, 2021, with the following caption: “if you feel bad for the police, you are part of the problem. . .”
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jason B.A. McCullough and James B. Nelson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and Taryn Meeks of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section. Valuable assistance was provided by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices for the Western District of Washington. The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, with assistance by the FBI’s Seattle Division.
The ATF and FBI continue to urge the public to report suspected use of explosive devices, or violent, destructive acts associated with the recent unrest. Anyone with information can call 1-888-ATF-TIPS (1-888-283-8477), email ATFTips@atf.gov or submit information anonymously via ReportIt.com.
The FBI is looking for individuals who may have incited or promoted violence of any kind. Anyone with digital material or tips can call 1-800-CALL-FBI (800-225-5324) or submit images or videos at https://tips.fbi.gov/.
The charges contained in the complaint are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The maximum penalty is prescribed by Congress and provided here for informational purposes. Any sentence actually imposed is required to be imposed based on the specific factors of the offense and the defendant, in consultation with the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.