Joseph Biggs, a leader of the far-right nationalist group the Proud Boys, was indicted on Wednesday in connection with the riot on Capitol Hill, as prosecutors said he led dozens of members of the group in a march in anger towards – and in – the rooms. of Congress.
Mr Biggs, 37, was arrested in Florida just hours before President Biden’s inauguration and is charged with unlawful entry and corruptly obstructing due process. At least five other members of the group, which sent hundreds of infantry to Washington two weeks ago for a march in support of former President Donald J. Trump, also face charges stemming from the attack on the Capitol. .
The Proud Boys describe themselves as “Western chauvinists” and have a history in recent years of bloody street fights with leftist anti-fascist activists. During Mr. Trump’s tenure, they were among his loudest – and most violent – supporters. During one of the presidential debates, Mr. Trump returned the favor, telling members of the group to “step back and be ready.”
Mr Biggs’ involvement in the Capitol Riot began last month, prosecutors said, when he began encouraging the Proud Boys to attend the Jan.6 event in Washington, which was billed as a march for “Stop the Steal”. According to court documents, he echoed messages from Proud Boy chairman Enrique Tarrio, asking members to avoid their typical black and yellow polo shirts and instead go “incognito” and move around town in “small. teams ”.
Although Mr. Tarrio visited Washington himself this month, he was kicked out of the city by a judge on January 5 after being arrested the day before in connection with the burning of a Black Lives Matter banner. torn from a historic black church in a separate series of violent protests last month. When officers took Mr. Tarrio into custody, they discovered he was carrying two large capacity rifle magazines emblazoned with the Proud Boys chicken logo.
On the day of the riot, Mr Biggs – wearing glasses, a black knit beanie and a blue and gray plaid shirt – was captured in a video standing in a large group of Proud Boys as someone screams , with an expletive: “Let’s take the Capitol!” Other parts of the video show him walking with the group towards the building, chanting slogans like, “Whose streets? Our streets.” Next to him in the crowd, According to court documents, was another Proud Boy organizer, Ethan Nordean, also known as Rufio Panman.
While prosecutors admit Mr Biggs was not among the first to break into the Capitol, they say he later admitted to entering the building for a brief period. They also say he appears to have worn a walkie-talkie-style device on his chest, which suggests he was communicating with others during the raid.
Mr. Biggs, who has spoken publicly about his service in the United States Army often, is a former correspondent for Alex Jones’ conspiratorial media Infowars. While working for Infowars, Mr. Biggs covered several high profile events among extremists. He reported on the role the militia, the Oath Keepers, played in protecting local businesses during the violent unrest in Ferguson, Missouri in 2015 and was present during the invasion and occupation of Woe. National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in 2016.
In an interview with The New York Times hours after the attack on the Capitol, Mr Biggs said that he and about 100 other Proud Boys arrived at the complex around 1 p.m. on January 6 when suddenly the crowd in front of them leapt and l atmosphere has grown. violent. “It literally happened in seconds,” Biggs said, referring to the invasion of the building.
Prosecutors also charged Dominic Pezzola, a Rochester Proud Boy and former Marine, in connection with the riot, noting in Mr Biggs’ criminal complaint that he appeared to be wearing a headset communication device. Charges have also been filed against Nicholas Ochs, founder of the Proud Boys chapter in Hawaii, and Nicholas DeCarlo, who runs a press group called “Murder the Media” associated with the Proud Boys.
The federal investigation into the Capitol Riot has now led to more than 100 arrests on charges that included weapons-related offenses and assaults on police officers.
Prosecutors on Wednesday also charged a Connecticut man with trapping a police officer behind a riot shield as a crowd pressed against him. Patrick E. McCaughey, 23, of Ridgefield, Connecticut, has been charged with pinning Daniel Hodges, a Washington Metropolitan Police officer, against a door on the Capitol. According to a widely viewed video of the incident, Constable Hodges called for help until he was finally brought to safety.