Joseph Randall Biggs (born 1983/1984) is an American veteran, media personality, organizer of the Proud Boys, and convicted felon for his participation in the January 6 United States Capitol attack.

Joseph Randall Biggs
Biggs' 2021 mug shot
Born1983/1984 (age 39–40)
Occupations
Employers
OrganizationProud Boys
Known forJanuary 6 Capitol attack
Criminal charges
Criminal penalty17 years imprisonment
Criminal statusImprisoned at
FCI Talladega
Talladega, Alabama, US
Military career
BranchUnited States Army
RankSergeant
AwardsPurple Heart

After serving in the United States Army and suffering a traumatic brain injury, Biggs began working for various conservative media organizations, including InfoWars and Censored.TV. As a leader for the far-right Proud Boys group, he organized and promoted the End Domestic Terrorism rally; was found jointly culpable for an over-$1 million judgment for trespass and vandalism at the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church; and helped lead the organization's destructive efforts in the attack on the United States Capitol.

For the last of these, in 2023, he was found guilty on six criminal counts (including seditious conspiracy), and sentenced to 17 years in federal prison.

Personal life edit

Joseph Randall Biggs[1] was born in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1983 or 1984.[2] As of March 2021, he lived in Ormond Beach, Florida,[3] and upon his 2023 trial, had at least one daughter.[4]

In the 2010s, Biggs was arrested in Austin, Texas for assaulting a peace officer while drunk, but a grand jury did not return an indictment.[5] On social media, Biggs has repeatedly posted homophobic and misogynistic content since at least spring 2012;[6] his Twitter and Facebook accounts were suspended for posting threatening messages.[7]

Career edit

Military edit

Biggs is a United States Army combat veteran.[8] He suffered a traumatic brain injury during a deployment to Iraq, for which he received a Purple Heart.[9] As reported by Salon, Michael Hastings' book The Operators corroborates Biggs' service in Afghanistan as well as the sergeant's involvement "in a gruesome suicide-bombing incident". In 2007, he was stationed at Fort Bragg when arrested for domestic violence. Biggs claimed his separation from the Army was a medical retirement[5] after eight years enlisted.[10]

Media edit

He also worked as a correspondent for InfoWars, where he covered the Oath Keepers' actions at the 2015 Ferguson unrest, the 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge,[11] conspiracy theories about the 2015 San Bernardino attack, and the Pizzagate conspiracy theory.[6]

In January 2017, Biggs posted online that he had been hired by Right Side Broadcasting Network (RSBN; "the unofficial version of Trump TV") to make a program focusing on the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution;[6] RSBN refuted that in April, saying they were merely speaking with Biggs and "are anything but racist or sexist here."[12]

In August 2017, Biggs was a speaker at the Boston Free Speech Rally,[2] and by 2019, was the host of a right-wing talk radio show.[13] In September 2020, Biggs was employed by Censored.TV,[14] though his show had been removed by late January 2021.[15]

Proud Boys edit

By 2019,[7] Joseph Biggs was an organizer of the Proud Boys, a neofascist[16] "far-right,[17][11][18] all-male group of self-described 'Western chauvinists'"[17] which the Southern Poverty Law Center has classified as a hate group.[19]

Biggs was an organizer[7] and the main promoter of August 2019's End Domestic Terrorism rally in Portland, Oregon.[19] In the wake of that event, in response to Biggs' threat to return with the Proud Boys on a monthly basis, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler chastized Biggs "for frightening Portlanders with the prospect of violence in the streets", and told the Floridian he was not welcome in Portland.[13]

Biggs' lawyer—J. Daniel Hull—alleged that in late July 2020, the Federal Bureau of Investigation approached his client and enlisted his assistance collecting on-the-ground intelligence about antifa activists.[3]

At the September 29, 2020 presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, when pressured to condemn the Proud Boys as a white supremacy group, the president said, "Proud Boys, stand back and stand by". The next day, Biggs filed a police report with the Volusia County sheriff's office, alleging receipt of threatening phone calls and social-media messages, and requesting police protection. His identity in connection with the report was obfuscated under Marsy's Law.[15]

On December 12, 2020, Proud Boys trespassed the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., destroyed church property, and then celebrated the same. The church filed a lawsuit for compensatory damages against the Proud Boys' limited liability corporation, and specifically named Biggs, Jeremy Bertino, Enrique Tarrio, and John Turano. On June 30, 2023, Judge Neal E. Kravitz of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia issued a default judgment against the defendants for over one million dollars.[20]

Capitol attack edit

Planning and participation edit

In 2021, prior to the January 6 United States Capitol attack that delayed the certification of Joe Biden's presidential-election win, Biggs exhorted for Proud Boys to "turn out in record numbers [...] We will be blending in as one of you ... We are going to smell like you, move like you, and look like you. The only thing we'll do that's us is think like us!"[18] On January 5, via encrypted social media channels, he communicated with other members: "trying to get our numbers. So we can plan accordingly for tonight and go over tomorrow's plan. [...] info should be coming out [...] we have a plan".[21]

 
Biggs marching by the United States Supreme Court Building

Outside the Capitol Building, Biggs spoke privately with Ryan Samsel, who immediately thereafter was the first person to breach the security perimeter.[10] Biggs was one of the first to breach the building itself at about 2:13 p.m., 20 seconds behind Dominic Pezzola, who smashed a Senate window with a riot shield;[18] he was identified by the FBI via photos and videos taken there.[17] Biggs and other Proud Boys were wearing walkie-talkies to allow real-time communication,[18] and Biggs was recorded on video saying of the breach, "This is awesome!"[17] He later left the building, but returned 30 minutes later alongside some Oath Keepers, pushing their way past a law enforcement officer.[21]

Legal repercussions edit

On January 18, Biggs admitted to the FBI that he entered the building, but claimed he neither forced his way in, nor knew about the plan to do so.[17] On the morning of January 20, 2021, he was arrested in Florida,[11] charged with knowingly entering a restricted building without lawful authority; obstructing, influencing, or impeding an official proceeding; and willfully and knowingly engaging in disorderly conduct to impede a session of Congress.[17] In Orlando court, Biggs did not enter a plea; magistrate judge Embry Kidd released him to home detention[18] with an unsecured bond of US$25,000 (equivalent to about $27,000 in 2022),[22] pending his trial in Washington, D.C.[17]

Biggs and three other Proud Boys leaders (Charles Donohoe, Ethan Nordean, and Zachary Rehl)[23] were indicted (United States of America v. Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl, and Charles Donohoe) on March 10, 2021, charged with planning and executing the Capitol attack.[3] On March 20, and based on these new charges, federal prosecutors requested Biggs return to pre-trial detention.[21] Hull attempted to leverage Biggs' alleged prior cooperation with the FBI to keep his client out on bail.[3] Judge Timothy J. Kelly revoked his bail that April, saying, "The defendants stand charged with seeking to steal one of the crown jewels of our country, in a sense, by interfering with the peaceful transfer of power. [...] It's no exaggeration to say the rule of law and ... in the end, the existence of our constitutional republic is threatened by it."[24] In July 2021, Hull complained to Kelly that Biggs' time in the Seminole County, Florida jail was subjecting his Proud Boys client to threats of violence, exacerbating his medical problems, and complicating their defense prep due to a lack of technology.[25]

On June 6, 2022, a superseding grand jury indictment (United States of America v. Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl, Enrique Tarrio, and Dominic Pezzola) was issued by the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, Matthew M. Graves.[26] In addition to Hull, at the D.C. jury trial, Biggs was also represented by the Connecticut-based Norm Pattis, who was briefly removed from the case when his law license was suspended due to mishandling confidential documents in Alex Jones' trial for defamation.[27]

On May 4, 2023, after the three-month trial in D.C.,[28] Biggs was found guilty of seditious conspiracy; obstructing an official proceeding and criminal conspiracy thereto; conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging any duties; interference with law enforcement during civil disorder; and destruction of government property. Judge Kelly ruled that Biggs' destruction of a fence separating rioters and police qualified the defendant for "a terrorism sentencing enhancement sought by prosecutors", who asked for a 33-year sentence. Prior to sentencing, Biggs apologized to the court, blaming his actions on personal and familial difficulties,[4] and conceded that "I know that I have to be punished and I understand".[29] On August 31, Kelly sentenced Biggs to 17 years of federal imprisonment.[4] As of January 2024, Biggs was prisoner number 26257-509, imprisoned at the Federal Correctional Institution, Talladega with a release date of October 16, 2035 (11 years' time).[30]

Two days later, Biggs told Alex Jones that his veteran's pension had been revoked, and that if Donald Trump is successful in the 2024 presidential election, "I know he'll pardon me. I believe that with all my heart". On CNN Republican Town Hall with Donald Trump, the former president said that he—if elected—would look into pardoning a "'large portion' of the Capitol riot defendants."[31] In the run up to Ohio's Republican primary for the 2024 US Senate election, incumbent senator J. D. Vance was trying to redefine the extent of the capitol attack, saying that Biggs and the other men who "tore down barricades and fencing, led people into the building, and fought through officers trying to defend the building" were sentenced too harshly in comparison to other criminals.[32]

References edit

  1. ^ Polantz, Katelyn; Simon, Mallory; Vera, Amir (January 21, 2021). "Proud Boys leader Joseph Biggs arrested in Florida in connection with the Capitol riot". CNN. Archived from the original on May 25, 2023. Retrieved September 4, 2023.
  2. ^ a b Weiner, Jeff (January 21, 2021). "Who is Joseph Biggs, Ormond Beach man and Proud Boys organizer arrested in Capitol riot?". Orlando Sentinel. ISSN 0744-6055. Archived from the original on June 13, 2022. Retrieved September 3, 2023.
  3. ^ a b c d "FBI enlisted Proud Boys leader to inform on antifa, lawyer says". NBC News. Associated Press. March 31, 2021. Archived from the original on May 28, 2023. Retrieved September 3, 2023. The agents who met with Joseph Biggs wanted to know what he was 'seeing on the ground,' his lawyer said, adding, 'They spoke often.'
  4. ^ a b c Reilly, Ryan J.; Barnes, Daniel (August 31, 2023). "Proud Boy Joe Biggs sentenced to 17 years in Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy case". Washington, D.C.: NBC News. Archived from the original on September 10, 2023. Retrieved September 10, 2023. Biggs 'served as an instigator and leader' during the Capitol attack, prosecutors said. Zachary Rehl, another Proud Boy convicted of seditious conspiracy, was sentenced to 15 years.
  5. ^ a b Sollenberger, Roger (January 22, 2021). "Wait, do blue lives matter? How Joe Biggs and the Proud Boys turned on the police". Salon. OCLC 43916723. Archived from the original on May 5, 2023. Retrieved September 10, 2023. Proud Boys leader Joe Biggs once dined with Lindsey Graham at Trump's D.C. hotel. Now he's under arrest
  6. ^ a b c "New Host for 'Unofficial Version of Trump TV' Encouraged Date Rape and Punching Transgender People". Media Matters for America. January 29, 2021 [2017-01-04]. Archived from the original on March 20, 2023. Retrieved September 3, 2023. Former Infowars Reporter Joe Biggs Also Threatened to Release Revenge Porn and Commented Positively About Sexual Violence and Punching Women
  7. ^ a b c Bernstein, Maxine (August 8, 2019). "Mixed messages, mounting tensions as Proud Boys and antifa prepare to face off in Portland". The Oregonian. ISSN 8750-1317. Archived from the original on May 21, 2023. Retrieved September 3, 2023.
  8. ^ Sidner, Sara; Rappard, Anna-Maja; Cohen, Marshall (February 4, 2021). "Disproportionate number of current and former military personnel arrested in Capitol attack, CNN analysis shows". Ormond Beach, Florida: CNN. Archived from the original on April 4, 2023. Retrieved September 9, 2023.
  9. ^ Jansen, Bart (September 1, 2023) [2023-08-31]. "Proud Boys member Joseph Biggs gets 17 years for Jan. 6 attack, second-longest sentence yet". USA Today. Washington, D.C. ISSN 0734-7456. Archived from the original on September 6, 2023. Retrieved September 10, 2023. Biggs was one of five Proud Boys scheduled for sentencing and one of four convicted of seditious conspiracy.
  10. ^ a b Feuer, Alan; Montague, Zach (August 31, 2023). "Proud Boys Lieutenant Sentenced to 17 Years in Jan. 6 Sedition Case". The New York Times. ISSN 1553-8095. OCLC 1645522. Archived from the original on September 8, 2023. Retrieved September 10, 2023. The penalty for Joseph Biggs is the second longest in more than 1,100 criminal cases stemming from the Capitol attack. Another Proud Boys leader was sentenced to 15 years.
  11. ^ a b c Feuer, Alan (January 20, 2021). "A leader of the Proud Boys was arrested over his role at the Capitol riot". The New York Times. ISSN 1553-8095. OCLC 1645522. Archived from the original on March 30, 2023. Retrieved September 3, 2023.
  12. ^ "Pro-Trump RSBN Scales Back, Cancels Mike Cernovich Program". Media Matters for America. April 26, 2021. Archived from the original on November 27, 2022. Retrieved September 3, 2023.
  13. ^ a b Mesh, Aaron (August 17, 2019). "Portland Mayor Responds to Right-Wing Organizer's Threat of Monthly Protests: 'We Do Not Want Him Here in My City, Period'". Willamette Week. ISSN 2640-5857. Archived from the original on January 29, 2023. Retrieved September 3, 2023. Ted Wheeler chastised Joe Biggs and other right-wing marchers for frightening Portlanders with the prospect of violence in the streets.
  14. ^ Read, Richard (September 30, 2020). "Proud Boys, told by Trump to stand back and stand by, 'all but guarantees violence'". Los Angeles Times. Seattle. ISSN 2165-1736. OCLC 3638237. Archived from the original on September 7, 2023. Retrieved September 9, 2023.
  15. ^ a b Harper, Mark (January 24, 2021). "Volusia Proud Boy facing charges claimed last fall that threats were made against his life". The Daytona Beach News-Journal. ISSN 1525-2493. Archived from the original on September 6, 2023. Retrieved September 9, 2023.
  16. ^ "Proud Boy organizer arrested in Florida over riot at Capitol". Orlando, Florida: Associated Press. January 21, 2021. Archived from the original on July 3, 2022. Retrieved September 4, 2023.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g Madani, Doha; Williams, Pete (January 20, 2021). "Proud Boys organizer Joe Biggs charged in Capitol riot". NBC News. Archived from the original on August 31, 2023. Retrieved September 3, 2023. The charges say he was one of the first to enter the building, through a door that was opened by a small group that got in by breaking a window.
  18. ^ a b c d e Hsu, Spencer S. (January 20, 2021). "Proud Boys organizer Joe Biggs arrested as FBI alleges more possible planning in U.S. Capitol breach". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. OCLC 2269358. Archived from the original on March 31, 2023. Retrieved September 3, 2023.
  19. ^ a b "Portland rally: Far-right and antifa groups face off". BBC News. August 18, 2019. Archived from the original on August 31, 2023. Retrieved September 3, 2023. Police arrested 13 people as far-right groups rallying in the north-western US city of Portland, Oregon, skirmished with left-wing counter-protesters.
  20. ^ Campbell, Josh (July 1, 2023). "Proud Boys members ordered to pay over $1 million in 'hateful and overtly racist' church destruction civil suit". CNN. Archived from the original on July 11, 2023. Retrieved September 3, 2023.
  21. ^ a b c Toohey, Grace (March 22, 2021). "Ormond Beach Proud Boys organizer now accused of helping to plan Capitol riot". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. OCLC 2269358. Archived from the original on June 8, 2023. Retrieved September 10, 2023.
  22. ^ "Florida resident and Proud Boys organizer arrested in Capitol riots". Orlando, Florida: WESH. January 20, 2021. Archived from the original on February 6, 2023. Retrieved September 3, 2023.
  23. ^ Polantz, Katelyn (March 20, 2021) [2021-03-19]. "Two more Proud Boys indicted for Capitol riot as prosecutors detail evidence of planning". CNN. Archived from the original on April 6, 2023. Retrieved September 4, 2023.
  24. ^ Cheney, Kyle; Gerstein, Josh (April 19, 2021). "Judge to revoke bail for Proud Boy leaders involved in Capitol riot". Politico. Archived from the original on September 6, 2023. Retrieved September 10, 2023. Ethan Nordean of Washington state and Joseph Biggs of Florida are charged with conspiring to stop the certification of the 2020 election.
  25. ^ Fernandez, Frank (July 15, 2021). "Volusia County Proud Boys leader threatened at Seminole County Jail, attorney says". The Daytona Beach News-Journal. ISSN 1525-2493. Archived from the original on January 21, 2022. Retrieved September 10, 2023.
  26. ^ Hsu, Spencer S.; Weiner, Rachel; Jackman, Tom (June 6, 2022). "Proud Boys leader and lieutenants charged with seditious conspiracy". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. OCLC 2269358. Archived from the original on June 25, 2023. Retrieved September 4, 2023. The group is the second whose members face the federal rare charge in the Capitol attack
  27. ^ Kunzelman, Michael; Whitehurst, Lindsay (February 11, 2023). "Bickering bogs down Capitol riot trial of Proud Boys leaders". Washington, D.C.: Associated Press. Archived from the original on September 6, 2023. Retrieved September 10, 2023.
  28. ^ Kunzelman, Michael; Whitehurst, Lindsay; Durkin Richer, Alanna (May 4, 2023). "Proud Boys' Tarrio guilty of Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy". Washington, D.C.: Associated Press. Archived from the original on September 9, 2023. Retrieved September 10, 2023.
  29. ^ Rabinowitz, Hannah; Lybrand, Holmes (August 31, 2023). "Proud Boys leader Joe Biggs sentenced to 17 years in January 6 case". CNN. Archived from the original on September 21, 2023. Retrieved October 5, 2023.
  30. ^ "Inmate Locator". Federal Bureau of Prisons. United States Department of Justice. Retrieved May 10, 2023.
  31. ^ Graziosi, Graig (September 4, 2023). "Convicted Proud Boys leader boasts that 'Trump will pardon him' in phone call to Alex Jones". The Independent. ISSN 1741-9743. OCLC 185201487. Archived from the original on September 28, 2023. Retrieved October 5, 2023. Joe Biggs made jailhouse phone call to complain about prison food and ask for donations to support his family
  32. ^ Evans, Nick; Pope, Zurie (February 19, 2024). "What to make of Ohio candidates invoking Jan. 6 conspiracy theories?". Ohio Capital Journal. Archived from the original on February 21, 2024. Retrieved February 26, 2024.

Further reading edit

External links edit