The Secrets of the Most Coveted Piece of Insurrection Day Evidence

Proof—and the FBI—have been tracking a single damning tape for months.

{Note: This is Part II of a three-part exposé on the Proud Boys’ actions during the January 6 insurrection. Part I is here. Part III is coming soon, and involves new info on the Block Video.}

Introduction

Three days after the January 6 insurrection, the founder of the Proud Boys, Gavin McInnes, publicly threatened to sue me.

McInnes, posting on Parler in the shadow of the most violent and deadly attack on the nation’s capital since the War of 1812, was emboldened by the recent decision of CNN to retract a claim that on January 6 the Arizona Proud Boys were wearing orange hats.

I had published that claim on my Twitter feed, with proof, including a citation to an incredible piece of investigative journalism in the Wall Street Journal. But the primary source for my connection of the Proud Boys with “blaze orange hats” (which turned out to be entirely correct) was a video that was shortly thereafter hidden on YouTube. The video, due to the name of its creator—high-ranked Proud Boy Eddie Block—has been denominated the “Block Video.” In the wake of that video’s removal from public availability on YouTube, it became more difficult to convince CNN (or, for that matter, had I cared at all to do so, Gavin McInnes) that their claims about what the Proud Boys were or were not wearing in mid-insurrection were inaccurate.

Here’s the McInnes post on Parler (warning: explicit language):

For many weeks after the “Block Video” disappeared from the internet, I tried to find snippets of it online. I hadn’t finished my public analysis of it on Twitter when it was withdrawn by its creator, the “fourth-degree” Proud Boy Block, though I’d managed to make at least a basic accounting of several of its key post-insurrection revelations (remembering that these were indeed still revelations in the hectic two days after Joe Biden’s win was finally certified on January 7):

  • That the Proud Boys used blaze orange hats and tape as identifying markers during the insurrection, suggesting a paramilitary concern with making in-theater distinctions between hostiles and friendlies;

  • that the Proud Boys were employing military signals on Insurrection Day;

  • that certain Proud Boys had been “designated” using military-style markings for tasks that (at the time) remained unclear;

  • that the Proud Boys were using masking to hide their identities rather than for virus-protection purposes;

  • that the Proud Boys were marching in a discrete military formation on January 6 rather than as part of a larger (heterogeneous) crowd;

  • that the Proud Boys had formed up at the Capitol as a group (with many of them wearing blaze-orange hats) prior to Donald Trump’s speech, suggesting a present intent to focus their attention on that building particularly (more on this below); and

  • that a group of men matching these descriptions and tactics were the catalyst for the breaching of the Capitol later on in the day.

At some point I took a break from watching the Block Video—as there was so much else that needed to be covered at the time—but I noted in subsequent tweets that Stop the Steal co-organizer Ali Alexander had worn a blaze-orange hat when he led a “Victory or death!” chant at Freedom Plaza on Insurrection Eve, and that Alexander had thereafter declared (as part of his evident Martyr Complex, and as a confirmation that he had coordinated with the Proud Boys pre-insurrection) “God gave me the color orange.” But once I moved to focusing on Alexander’s pre-insurrection contacts with the Trump campaign, and the January 5 “war council” at Trump International Hotel Alexander attended via telephone, my attention drifted away from the Block Video.

Thankfully, the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation did not so drift.

Eddie Block Gets Raided By the FBI

On January 22, 2021, the FBI raided the California home of Eddie Block. So invested was the Bureau in finding the Block Video and other related January 6 recordings by Block that it sent twenty-five agents to his home and, under the auspices of what can only be termed an expansive search warrant, seized not only all of Block’s recording equipment but also, as the Fresno Bee reports, his “cellphone, backup cellphone, laptop, iPad, microphone, Xbox, old computer[s], battery chargers, cable box” and even “some of his hats.” The FBI was not playing around with Block—its search of his home took over four hours—and with good reason, as the Block Video may be one of the most significant treasure troves of evidence in the entirety of the Bureau’s January 6 investigation.

So who the hell is Eddie Block?

In the Block Video, a fellow Proud Boy refers to Block as “second-in-charge” of the Proud Boys on January 6, to which Block responds “that’s what they say.” While the seriousness of both remarks is unclear, it’s clear that Block has a protective detail and media aides who remain with him throughout the day, and that his ability to reach a large national and even international Proud Boy audience through his livestreaming is considered a significant asset by the organization. Block refers to himself as being “second on antifa’s ‘watch-list.’” Other evidence in this article and the final article in this series on the Proud Boys confirms that Block has a direct line to the leader of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, as well as ready access to other Proud Boy commanders.

As noted above, Block has passed the white supremacist organization’s first four stages of membership, an increasingly big deal now that the organization has, per Block’s “airport Q&A” video (see the coming Part III of this series), closed down membership applications to ensure that it is getting “the right sort of people.”

{Note: I don’t think that it takes a former criminal investigator to know Block is referring to the danger of law enforcement infiltrating the group, even as we’d normally consider “the right sort of people” as referring to an exclusionary admission policy based on race and ethnicity.}

Block is a person with a disability whose service dog is named after the ex-president—“Donnie J. Trump”, Block repeatedly calls him in one of the videos in this series—but more importantly, indeed critically for the investigative purposes of the FBI, Block is the chief media coordinator for the Proud Boys, and as noted close enough to the national leadership of the organization (in part because he is one of its most effective promoters online) that on January 6 he can speak about how he “tried to call Enrique [Tarrio, leader of the Proud Boys]” as he sits in his motorized scooter atop a platform at the Capitol long after his compatriots have fled the scene. He is also seen, in the Block Video, participating in a march through the streets of DC with since-indicted Proud Boy “sergeant-at-arms” Ethan Nordean and since-indicted Proud Boy leader (taking Tarrio’s place on January 6, as Tarrio had by then been arrested and banned from the capital) Joe Biggs.

But the Block Video is so much more than this, and indeed—it’s since become clear—is really a sequence of videos rather than just one, though its centerpiece is clearly an hour-plus video of the Proud Boys marching through Washington on the morning of January 6. In that video, which ends just as the assault on the Capitol begins, we see more than just interactions between Nordean and Biggs; more than just indicators of the coming Proud Boy assault on the Capitol; more than just some telling indicators of Proud Boy culture; we also see numerous individuals now under federal indictment for their actions on January 6, including nearly every Proud Boy the FBI has arrested. The reason? The Proud Boy commitment to marching in formation in what they perceive to be potentially hostile territory—their focus on possible attacks by “antifa” activists is almost comical—ensured that almost the whole of the organization’s January 6 operation would be captured in a single ill-advised livestream on Insurrection Day.

No wonder the FBI wanted to rifle through the contents of Block’s home so badly.

{Note: There is more that could be said about Block—for instance, his bid to become Madera County Supervisor, which campaign summarily collapsed after he was arrested for an almost melodramatically dangerous DUI hit-and-run, or his not-entirely-wrong claim to have been “last man at the Capitol” on January 6, as shown in a video in this articles series—but I’m not sure how much value there is in detailing the life of a member of a white supremacist group whose claim to fame is effectively “taking notes on a criminal fucking conspiracy” in cringe- and meme-worthy fashion for the sole purpose of earning some odd change via donations.}

The Block Video

As hinted at above, Eddie Block withdrew the Block Video from public availability on YouTube shortly after the insurrection, even as he left countless additional videos relating to the insurrection up on his YouTube channel. Fortunately, a resourceful reader of my Twitter feed has resurrected the content of the Block Video at this link, allowing us to now analyze it in some detail.

{Note: Before I begin, I was to acknowledge the amazing work done by The Everett Herald (WA) to rescue snippets of the Block Video before the entirety was resurrected on Facebook by a Proof reader. In this report, the Herald notes some key data points I also highlight below. I want to point readers, too, to a Wall Street Journal video that I consider to be—without question—the very best summary of the role of the Proud Boys in the January 6 insurrection.}

With that preamble, here are the key takeaways from the January 6 “Block Video”:

(1) Nordean and Biggs are indeed leading the group—along with soon-to-be indicted Zach Rehl—and it appears to be more than 100 strong. Biggs spends some of his time on his cell phone (he also has a walkie talkie-like two-way communications device in his pocket), and while it is unknown who he is communicating with, at one point he reports his location to an unknown third party. Biggs, like several other Proud Boys, appears to be wearing gloves with reinforced (hardened) knuckles. Nordean is wearing some sort of reinforced vest component; it’s unclear if it’s a bulletproof vest, but it may be. Dan Scott, pictured atop this article and discussed at length by the Everett Herald, can be clearly seen wearing a bulletproof vest at one point in the Block Video. Block refers to Nordean and Biggs as “two men on a mission, with about five hundred behind them ready to kick some butt standing [up] for this country.” {Note: Block later confirms that the group’s January 6 leaders, in Tarrio’s absence, are Biggs and “Rufio Panman,” Ethan Nordean’s alias.}

(2) The Proud Boys repeatedly use military slang, shorthand, and hand signals. They remind one another to “watch the perimeter” to “make sure no one is sneaking up on us” and they describe their formation as their “ranks”, underscoring that they arrived in DC on a war footing. They speak of forming a “line” at every stopping point.

(3) Many of the Proud Boys are wearing military gear—particularly military-style backpacks—and/or body armor along with their blaze-orange identifiers. These tend to be worn as armbands or helmet tape by the Proud Boys in the group who look to be most heavily armored.

(4) The Proud Boys say a prayer. The prayer includes an aspirational statement that the organization will, on January 6, “represent our [white Western] culture well.”

(5) Block orders everyone to “mask up” as he is “going live”, suggesting he does not want viewers to know the identities of any of the Proud Boy irregulars in DC on January 6. He says that he will be “yelled at [by Proud Boy leadership]” if he films a Proud Boy who has remained unmasked because he didn’t know he was being filmed.

(6) The group is press-hostile from the start. Nordean tells one photographer via a bullhorn—though he’s standing two feet from him—“Keep some distance, press. Get in front of me. If I’m faster than you, then you get the hell out of my way.” And then, shortly thereafter, “Press!—separate yourself from our group.” At another point the group breaks out in a “Fuck the media!” chant.

(7) The group is also arguably civilian-hostile. At several points we see Biggs (and other Proud Boys) giving the middle finger to passersby for no reason that the Block Video immediately reveals. Another Proud Boy yells at a civilian, “Commie bitch!”

(8) The group is unmistakably police-hostile. At one point Block says to an unseen party, “It [our formation] looks like soldiers because we are soldiers. We’re the new police around here [Washington, DC].” An unseen Proud Boy says, “[The] cops [are] pretend[ing] like they’re gonna do their job tonight”, suggesting (a) that the Proud Boys believe whatever their operation at the Capitol is going to be, it will take many hours—as the comment is made at midday—and (b) that the Proud Boys imagine that something is going to happen that afternoon or that evening that will require police intervention. Block replies to the unseen Proud Boy, We’re here to do their fucking job for them.”

At another point Nordean says through his bullhorn to unseen police officers, “Back the yellow [an apparent Proud Boy alternative—as their colors are black and yellow—to ‘back the blue’, and which means ‘we back Proud Boys’]. You’ve got [indiscernible] with us, now. You put our boy [Enrique Tarrio] in [custody] and you let the stabber go. You guys [police] have got to prove your shit to us, now. We’ll do your goddamn job for you. How about you start [indiscernible] so we don’t have to do this? There we go—you prove it to us.” It’s not clear what “job” the Proud Boys felt had to be done on Insurrection Day that they believed the police were not planning on doing.

Shortly thereafter, the Proud Boys start a “Do your job!” chant directed at the police officers along their marching route. Nordean joins a chant via his bullhorn for the first time at this point, shouting “Do your fucking job!” The anger over Tarrio’s recent arrest by the D.C. Metropolitan Police is palpable within the group. Later, Nordean says to police via his bullhorn, “Don’t forget! We don’t owe you anything! We don’t owe you anything. Your job is to protect and serve the people, not the property of bureaucrats.”

Nordean’s remark here is significant evidence, as he says it to the police protecting the Capitol as the Proud Boys are approaching the Capitol less than 90 minutes before the building is breached (approximately ten minutes after this event, Block announces the time as noon). Nordean’s reference to “the property of bureaucrats” appears to refer to the Capitol building itself—which Nordean implies the police should not be seeking to defend. Indeed, Nordean shouts this approximately thirty seconds before the Proud Boys first enter upon the Capitol grounds. The suggestion here is that the Proud Boys’ leaders are focused on the Capitol’s perimeter, defenses, and seeming impermeability.

At one point Block is imagining arming his scooter with weapons and then traveling to Portland to attack antifa, saying he would “go right through everyone [with his weapons]. Even the cops. Fuck ‘em.”

(9) The group clearly has an agenda somewhat disconnected from the Stop the Steal agenda—but there are points of connection. At one point a livestream viewer asks whether the Proud Boys are marching with a larger crowd, such as a crowd associated with Trump’s event at the White House Ellipse, and Block responds, “We left the crowd. We’re going out. We’re doing our own thing.” At another point Block declares that “The Proud Boys are taking over DC.” He later says, as if understanding the grave import of what the Proud Boys are doing, “We’re being more disciplined today [than January 5], guys.” He adds that he is only showing his audience the Proud Boys “marching with us”, but “we have hidden guys everywhere [in DC on January 6].”

(10) Block understands that his recording is illicit. At one point he opines that he can’t put “Proud Boys” in the title of his livestream or else he’ll be “shut down.”

(11) The group’s militaristic orientation and stance is persistent. At one point, while navigating a crowd, certain members of the group enter “stack formation”, a military term in which soldiers stay in formation by being right on one another’s backs (either with their hands on their fellow soldiers’ shoulders or not). The formation appears to be practiced, as a leader—it is unclear which one—announces, “Grab a shoulder!”

(12) Some of the Proud Boys are clearly armed. One has a metal baton attached to his backpack and another openly carries a baseball bat (see below). Block encourages any antifa members who are watching his livestream to “come find us”, implying with this that violence would quickly ensue.

(13) Right before the group takes a picture at the Capitol (see below), Dan Scott—the man in the center of the picture atop this article—shouts “Let’s take the fucking Capitol!” This is the clearest indication in the video that members of the group are well aware of what their future holds. In response to Scott’s ill-advised public outburst, a Proud Boy leader admonishes him, saying, “Let’s not fucking yell that, all right?” An off-camera voice, presumably not Scott, says “don’t yell it—do it [breach the Capitol].”

(14) The Proud Boys’ leaders are caught on camera discussing logistics. At one point Biggs is captured on film discussing the group’s plans with Ethan Nordean, saying (apparently in reference to Alex Jones, who had been asked by the White House to lead marchers from Trump’s Ellipse event, as established by prior Proof reporting and by Jones’s own statements), “We’ll go around this side [of the Capitol], and merge with Alex [Jones] as he’s coming in [with the crowd he’s leading].” This suggests at least the possibility of direct Stop the Steal-Proud Boy coordination, as Biggs has this exchange with Nordean almost immediately after getting off the phone with an unknown party.

At one point someone in Block’s audience asks him what the Proud Boys’ plans are. “What are our plans?” Block responds. “We can’t tell you what our plans are. Does it have to do with antifa? Maybe. Does it have to do with [pause]…being a patriot? Hell yeah.” When the group later stops for a rest and a meal, another filmmaker embedded with the Proud Boys asks Block, “Where we headed?” Block’s answer: “Ahhh… we’re headed back to the [Trump] rally.” The delay in Block’s response suggests he may not be being truthful—and may be gauging whether he can trust this filmmaker—and indeed the group doesn’t thereafter go to the Ellipse. “Is there nothing going on at the Capitol?” the filmmaker asks. “Not really”, Block answers after a pause. “We’re just kind of marching around letting people know we’re here”, he adds. “It’ll be good.”

(15) While marching, the Proud Boys listen to racist music, specifically the song “By God We’ll Have Our Home Again” by The Männerbund. According to the essay “Love and Death in the Männerbund,” “As a concept for analysis of Old Germanic [male] social groupings, the ‘Mannerbund’ fell into…disrepute as a result of reaction against the excesses of Otto Hofler’s famous book Kultische Geheimbunde der Germanen and of the generally positive reception of its theories and its author by the National Socialists [Nazis].”

The song’s lyrics include, “In our own towns we’re foreigners now, our names are spat and cursed / The headlines smack of another attack, not the last and not the worst / Oh my fathers they look down on me, I wonder what they feel / To see their noble sons driven down beneath a coward’s heel.”

On the Männerbund website, the following introductory text is found in the site’s first full post, in November 2019: “There is no sense in hiding it. There is no shame in admitting it. We live in clown world. It might as well be a badly written comic book from the seventies. A Jewish press, thinking itself oh-so-clever, could call it Bizarro World, where up is down, and right is wrong, and Superman is retarded.” And elsewhere in the same essay we find: “Let us assume our Männerbund is intrinsically pro-White….pro–White is a cultural statement. White is a culture….[but now] we have no culture. We are displaced in our own society, and society has gotten away from us. Us, White Men of good character, White Women with virtue….it remains [the case] that Men of the Western World, Whites, we have lost our high trust society. In order to restore trust, we have to simulate a beginning, we have to recreate our own culture.” Block sings along to the racist Männerbund song as it plays. {Note: Scores of Proud Boys also make the White Power symbol on camera during the course of the video.}

(16) Ali Alexander’s Arizona Proud Boys stand out. Nearly all the Arizona Proud Boys are wearing blaze-orange hats like Alexander’s January 5 hat; most are also armored. One of the flag-bearers in the group—there are two carrying the flag of the State of Arizona—is wearing an earpiece and has a two-way communications device, raising the question of whether he’s in direct contact with Alexander, who we know (see prior Proof reporting) has told Alex Jones in a publicly available interview that he was in contact with the Trump campaign during the insurrection. If indeed the Arizona Proud Boys are linked up with Alexander in this way, it means the Proud Boys could receive commands from the Trump campaign near-instantaneously mid-insurrection.

It’s unclear if the blaze orange-hatted flag-bearer in question, pictured below, has yet been identified. But he is seen speaking intently on his phone just five minutes before his team (see the Conclusion of this article) leads the charge against the U.S. Capitol. Finding out who he was speaking to—quite evidently a Proud Boy or Proud Boy agent or ally being used as a “spotter” at a second location, and who had urgent information to impart to the Proud Boys minutes before the insurrection kicked off—should be an urgent task for FBI investigators. At one point in the call, it appears the man says, “I’ll tell that to ‘Rufio’ [Ethan Nordean].”

(16) The Proud Boys are receiving communications about the movements of the president, though it’s not clear from where. Block drives his scooter into the midst of a conversation about logistics involving Nordean, Scott, and a third Proud Boy, quickly realizing that he should drive away when he hears the third man speaking with Nordean and Scott say, “He [Trump] said he’s gonna march. They’re gonna want to keep him close to The Beast [the presidential limousine].” It’s not clear who from the Ellipse is communicating with the Proud Boys. This conversation confirms, however, that the Proud Boys’ leadership believed Donald Trump was with the marchers when they stormed the Capitol—further establishing that Trump’s lie to the mob on January (he knew days earlier, as Proof has established in writing about the burgeoning January 6 scandal within the Secret Service, that he would not be marching to the Capitol).

Block, hearing the discussion of the president, says, “I better get out of here. You guys are talking about stuff I don’t want to hear.” This underscores that Block doesn’t want certain conversations on his livestream, and doesn’t want viewers to know that the Proud Boys are strategizing how to coordinate their movements with those of the president—which would mean their focus, like Trump’s, is the Capitol. Approximately a minute thereafter, he says to a Proud Boy who asks him how he’s doing, “Just trying to stay out of trouble. Or find it. Who knows? I never stay out of trouble.”

(17) The president drives by the Proud Boys. In one of the strangest moments of the Block Video, with approximately twenty minutes left in the film a rash of sirens are suddenly heard, and a caravan of police vehicles heads directly toward the Proud Boys down an empty street. Almost immediately thereafter, Block’s feed cuts out, making it impossible to know whether the president waved at or otherwise acknowledged the massed white supremacists. As soon as Trump’s motorcade passes—the president was in the midst of fleeing back to the White House with his family—Block’s cell-data connection is restored. {Note: Presumably, this disruption was caused by Secret Service-run jamming equipment.} Nevertheless, it seems significant that Donald Trump drove by a large group of well-armored white supremacists, many in military fatigues, and then, for hours thereafter, refused to do anything about the attack on the Capitol under the presumptive grounds that he had no reason to fully understand the scope of the threat.

(18) The assault. With ten minutes left in the Block Video, the Proud Boys begin marching again—making a beeline for the Capitol on a path Block can’t easily follow on his scooter. Within five minutes, people are pushing in a crowd toward the Capitol near one of the barricades. Minutes later, people are running and the video begins to cut out. “Look at this, folks!” exclaims Block. “We’re storming the Capitol!” As he watches a barricade get toppled he adds, “Oh, shit! We’re tearing it down!” Rolling past it with his scooter he adds, “We tore this shit down. We’re storming the Capitol!”

The last substantive exchange in the video comes with just a minute left in the Block Video, with an unseen man advising Block to ditch his scooter entirely. “It’s a rental”, Block protests. “At this point”, the man responds, “I don’t think it matters.”

As shouts and whistles are heard coming from every direction, Block exclaims again, “We’re storming the Capitol!” and the video cuts to black.

Conclusion

Perhaps the most telling thing about the Block Video is what’s not on it: any attempt to attend Trump’s speech at the Ellipse. Instead, the Proud Boys park themselves on the march route for a good percentage of the running time of Trump’s speech to ensure that they’re the first ones to the Capitol to set things off there. It seems clear that the reason Block is cagey with the filmmaker he speaks to is that he knows—contrary to what he tells the man—that the Proud Boys have no intention of attending the rally, and that indeed they’d rather stand around doing nothing for nearly a half hour than lose their vaunted position on the march route.

But something more sinister can, and I believe should, be taken from this unusual decision by the Proud Boys. As evidenced by their cell phone use and ample two-way communications devices (especially as held by the organization’s on-site leadership), spotters at second and perhaps even a third location knew where Biggs’ and Nordean’s Proud Boys were at at all times; knew they wouldn’t be at the Ellipse; and presumably regarded it as advantageous that a large, armed-and-armored, white supremacist, anti-police organization was at the ready on the outskirts of the Capitol—waiting to strike.

As the Wall Street Journal reported about the events that occurred just seconds after the Block Video ends,

The milling crowd of President Trump supporters had taken his invitation to march on the Capitol, but upon arriving at the steel fencing at the edge of the building’s western lawn, they seemed unsure of what to do next. Then, at 12:48 p.m., a clutch of men in blaze orange hats and military-style vests turned a nearby street corner, marching straight toward them. In a matter of moments, the two groups merged and the crowd swelled to hundreds and surged forward, toppling a metal barricade at the curbside and charging up two small flights of stone steps toward five startled officers of the Capitol Police. The outer security cordon had been breached, and the first siege of the nation’s Capitol by U.S. citizens had begun.

So who was on the other end of the Proud Boys’ communications on January 6? Ali Alexander is certainly a likely suspect, as is Alex Jones, who is mentioned by Joe Biggs during an impromptu meeting. Another key suspect is Roger Stone, good friends with one of the now-indicted Proud Boys—Honolulu chapter president Nicholas Ochs—and who, as I’ve observed repeatedly here at Proof, mysteriously cancelled his Capitol Hill appearance for January 6 and then created a series of cover stories (none of which add up) to explain why. Other possibilities include the Trump campaign’s liaison to grassroots organizations on January 6, Katrina Pierson, and the leader of the Eighty Percent Coalition, Cindy Chafian, whose ties to the Trump campaign and the Proud Boys will be discussed in the final part of this three-part exposé of the Proud Boys.