Why Hasn't Zach Rehl Been Arrested Yet?
Three weeks after the disaster that was the January 6 Capitol riots, insurrectionists across the country are becoming acquainted with the long arm of the law. Trump supporters across the country are realizing, slowly and then all at once, that committing federal crimes while fully unmasked despite the global plague might not be a great idea. Hundreds of Proud Boys, Oathkeepers, militia members, and assorted MAGA grifters were reeled in and promptly charged with federal crimes in the weeks following the attack. Evidence was often captured from the hundreds of streamers circling the event, or even from the insurrectionists’ own social media posts. On this international stage, surrounded by cameras, not a single insurrectionist escaped the eyes of the world.
So how has Zach Rehl, President of the Philadelphia Proud Boys and guy who was definitely at the Capitol riots, flown under the radar?
President of the Philadelphia Proud Boys since 2018, Zach has always been a bit of an inscrutable figure in Philly’s crowded extremist community. He rarely shows to in-person events, though he was present when Proud Boys from as far away as Illinois and North Carolina held a flash rally in Philadelphia's Old City last October. But Zach has ties to real-life Nazi groups like American Guard and ACT for America, and is an ardent Donald Trump supporter (he identifies himself as “Captain Trump” in the Philadelphia Proud Boys Telegram chat), so of course he was going to take a day off in the middle of the week to do a little insurrection in the nation’s Capitol. Here he is in a video captured by The Daily Show’s Jordan Klepper, leading a contingent of Proud Boys as they leave their rallying point at the Washington Monument an hour before Trump’s speech. Wearing a camouflage “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN” hat, a black backpack proudly labeled “Temple University Owls” and a radio on the lapel of his jacket, Rehl is unmistakable.
As you can see by the southward entrance of the Washington Monument in the background, Zach and his buddies are headed South here, away from the elliptical. That’s because despite being Trump’s #1 fan and taking a day off ostensibly to see the President, Zach and the Proud Boys are not going to Trump’s speech to the north. Instead they marched down the Mall and directly to the Capitol, a walk captured in its entirety on stream from a Youtuber called Eddie Block Films. In the now-deleted video, we catch up with Rehl as the crowd of Proud Boys, dressed in black with identifying orange bands, come to a stop at the base of Union Square nearly an hour before the end of Trump’s speech. Rehl joins the group for a prayer before they break to receive orders from Proud Boy Elders Joe Biggs and Ethan “Rufio Panman” Nordean, with Rehl skulking in the background.
Eventually Biggs receives orders from someone on the phone, Nordean communicates them via bullhorn to the surrounding Proud Boys, and the siege of the capitol is underway. Here Eddie Block’s video becomes less useful as the wifi around the Capitol deteriorates, but we get one last shot of Rehl here as he and Biggs initiate a push against the first line of Capitol police. Note the Temple University Owl on his backpack, which makes him easily identifiable during the first big push.
For a while, this was all the footage that was available of Rehl pushing towards the Capitol. Biggs was arrested by the FBI last week for his videotaped entrance into the building and Nordean was behind the line as well, so it was reasonable to believe that Rehl made it beyond the barricades and onto the Capitol grounds, but there was no proof. The crowd of insurrectionists led by Rehl and Biggs quickly overruns the single line of barricades set up by Capitol Police at the base of a long row of steps. Eddie Block, who is in a powered wheelchair, falls behind the rest of the group as they rush towards the Capitol. Here the video ends, and we lose track of Zach. So he was clearly on his way up towards the siege lines, but it’s impossible to see whether or not he actually joins in the main push that resulted in the deaths of five people. But slowly, as videos from Parler archives became available, other evidence began to surface. Like this video, taken from the foot of the capitol steps, far beyond the official barricades set up by Capitol Police.
Well that sure looks like a man wearing the same hat and jacket as Rehl, although the gaiter and goggles make it difficult to make a positive identification. Close, but no cigar. If only we had…
A photo of Rehl wearing the exact same gaiter. Perfect.
So that’s why Zach Rehl doesn’t want anyone to know he was in DC - I’d probably want people to think I was in Harrisburg too if I had crossed state lines to commit federal crimes instead. Along with Nordean and Biggs, Rehl makes the third big Proud Boys chapter leader to make it across the police barricades at the failed insurrection. And boy, does Zach want you to think he wasn’t in DC. Here’s his lackey and protegee Richard Schwetz, recent founder of the Lehigh Valley Proud Boys, covering for Zach by claiming that he attended their rally at the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg. Very convincing, especially considering that Zach is nowhere to be seen in the group photo. But I’m sure if the FBI asks him where he was between the hours of 8am and 6pm on January 6th he’d have a pretty good answer - that is, if he wasn’t on video two states away doing a bunch of crimes.
Zach Rehl is a threat to this community. In his brief but storied right-wing career he’s instigated street fights, stalked antifascist activists and vandalized their homes, disrupted Black-led events in majority-Black neighborhoods with abandon, and traveled across state lines to commit federal crimes with a bunch of other criminals. He really doesn’t want people to know he was in DC. He wore a face mask and goggles to obscure his identity and had an accomplice post a false alibi to allow him to deny claims that he attended the insurrection. But Zach Rehl was definitely at the Capitol Insurrection, and he should probably be arrested for his part in it. Zach might be a quiet, awkward fascist who likes to stay behind the camera, but he’s still a fascist, hanging out with some of the most prominent fascists in the country. And letting him get away with storming the Capitol scot-free only makes him more of a danger to this community and anywhere else he travels.