“Need For Deterrence”: Proud Boy Joe Biggs Sentenced. According to federal prosecutors, Proud Boy Joe Biggs was convicted of seditious conspiracy. They argued he “served as an instigator and leader” during the Capitol attack.
Joe Biggs, a former organizer of the far-right Proud Boys extremist group, was convicted more of seditious conspiracy and other crimes committed during the riot more than two years ago. Biggs’ sentence was handed down by U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly. Biggs was also sentenced to three years of supervised release. A stipulation of his sentence prohibits Biggs from interacting with organizations that advocate violence against the government.
Jan. 6 Capitol Riot
PICURE: Police in riot gear. PHOTO: COURTSEY OF: Unsplash, Published on March 27, 2021
The United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., is a symbol of the American people and our government. It is also the site of the nation’s legislature, the United States Congress. The Capitol is a working office building. It is also where visitors from all over the world come to learn about American democracy.
Biggs and other Proud Boys members and associates were among the first rioters to breach the Capitol. They forced lawmakers to flee and disrupted the joint session of Congress to certify Biden’s electoral victory.
Before Trump directed his supporters to the Capitol, a large contingent of Proud Boys marched there. Prosecutors claim Biggs led the growing mob through barricades and into the building. Officer Shae Cooney of the Capitol Police Department testified about standing on the other side of the crowd. She stated that she attempted to keep them out. She said she couldn’t stop to talk to her family or check on Officer Brian D. Sicknick, who collapsed hours after the riot and died the next day.
Whose Capitol? Our Capitol!
Biggs used a megaphone before the first breach to lead rioters in chants of “Whose Capitol? Our Capitol!”
“They decided to break the law, assault officers, and cause an officer to lose his life and have other officers take their lives because of things that they saw,” Cooney said. “Because the people in this courtroom decided that they weren’t happy with how an election went.”
Biggs lied to the FBI after the riot, saying he wasn’t at the Capitol. Then he said he was, but he never went inside. After Tarrio’s arrest, he advised other Proud Boys to delete any potentially incriminating messages. According to court records, Biggs, like several other Proud Boys, had contact with federal agents before January 6. He only provided information about the group’s enemies on the left.
Proud Boy Leader Joe Biggs Sentenced
Biggs was sentenced to 17 years in federal prison on Thursday after federal prosecutors said he “served as an instigator and leader” and “acted as the tip of the spear” during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by dozens of Proud Boys members and associates to prevent the peaceful transfer of power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden following the 2020 presidential election. “Throughout the attack, Biggs maintained command of others and led them in a relentless effort to send a ‘message’ to the government that he and his men were prepared to ‘save’ the country by force,” prosecutors wrote in a court filing.
It is one of the most severe sentences in Capitol riot cases. The record is the 18-year sentence given to Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes. Rhodes was also convicted of seditious conspiracy and faced a 25-year federal prison sentence.
The government sought 33 years in prison for Biggs. Biggs is an Army veteran who was injured in Iraq and worked as a correspondent for the conspiracy website Infowars. According to prosecutors, he was a “vocal leader and influential proponent of the group’s shift toward political violence.” They took advantage of his “outsized public profile” and military experience as he “led a revolt against the government in an effort to stop the peaceful transfer of power.”
U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly handed down Biggs’ sentence. Earlier in the hearing on Thursday, he ruled that Biggs’ destruction of a fence between police and rioters qualified him for a terrorism sentencing enhancement sought by prosecutors. Kelly stated that the destruction of the fence was a “deliberate, meaningful step” that contributed to the disruption of the electoral vote count taking place in the Capitol.
An “Important American Custom” Destroyed
PICTURE: USA TODAY newspaper headline reads, “Pro-Trump Mobs Storm US Capitol.” PHOTO: COURTESY OF: Unsplash, Published on January 8, 2021.
“Need For Deterrence”: Proud Boy Joe Biggs Sentenced to 17 Years. According to US District Judge Timothy Kelly, the Jan. 6 attack violated an “important American custom,” certifying the Electoral College vote. “That day broke our tradition of peacefully transferring power, which is among the most precious things that we had as Americans,” the judge said, emphasizing that he was speaking in the past tense because of how Jan. 6 affected the process.
Biggs was one of four Proud Boys convicted in May by a jury in the District of Columbia of seditious conspiracy to keep Donald Trump in power, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to use force, intimidation, or threats to prevent officers of the United States from carrying out their duties, interference with law enforcement during civil disorder, and destruction of government property.
Biggs went to trial alongside Enrique Tarrio, Ethan Nordean, Zachary Rehl, and Dominic Pezzola. Except for Pezzola, all five were convicted of felonies and seditious conspiracy. The sentences for the other Proud Boys will be handed down in the coming days. Rehl on Thursday afternoon, Pezzola and Nordean on Friday, and Tarrio on Tuesday.
“January 6th will be a day in infamy,” Biggs said in a selfie video he recorded outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Seduced by the Crowd
In closing arguments at trial, Biggs’ attorney, Norm Pattis, stated that the Proud Boys’ “commander-in-chief,” former President Donald Trump, “sold them a lie,” referring to the lies about the 2020 presidential election.
Biggs begged forgiveness and leniency before his sentence was handed down on Thursday. He claimed he was sorry and knew he “messed up” on Jan. 6. Yet, he blamed the crowd of Trump supporters outside the Capitol for seducing him. He is not a violent person or “a terrorist.” “My curiosity got the better of me, and I’ll have to live with that for the rest of my life,” he said, claiming he had no “hate in my heart” and didn’t want to hurt people.
“I apologize for my rhetoric,” Biggs said, adding he used it to deal with what was going on with his family after a member of their family members molested his daughter. “I’m so sorry. … I’m not a terrorist. I don’t have hate in my heart.”
Biggs swore on her life that Jan. 6 would be his final event with the Proud Boys. “I’m finished with it.” “I’m sick of left versus right,” Biggs said. He stated that the only organization he wishes to be a part of is his daughter’s PTA. Biggs became emotional as he spoke about his daughter. Biggs begged Kelly to let him be present for his young daughter, whom he claims a family member molested. She is now in the care of his mother.
Aimed to Intimidate and Terrify
Prosecutors defended their decision to seek a sentence of 33 years in prison for Biggs. According to one, Biggs and his fellow Proud Boys committed “among the most serious crimes that this court will consider.”
“There is a reason why we will hold our collective breath as we approach future elections,” said prosecutor Jason McCullough. “We never gave it a second thought before January 6th.”
“They aimed to intimidate and terrify” not only lawmakers but also “the rest of the country that they didn’t agree with and make them yield to their political point of view,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason McCullough said in court. “That’s no different than the act of a spectacular bombing of a building.”
He used the example of a parent afraid to take their child to the polls or a couple concerned about violence at a presidential inauguration.
“That is what they set out to do,” McCullough stated. “They pushed us to the edge of a constitutional crisis.”
The Proud Boys created fear without using any weapons of mass destruction. “It’s almost seductive,” said McCullough. “It just takes slick propaganda in an environment where you encourage people to basically say, ‘It’s us against them.’”
A Need for Deterrence
Kelly agreed to apply a “terrorism” enhancement that significantly increased Biggs’ recommended prison sentence, which ranged from 27 years to 33 years and 9 months under the sentencing guidelines. These guidelines, however, did not bind the judge.
Kelly stated that it was not his responsibility to label Biggs a terrorist. Nonetheless, the judge emphasized the importance of sending a message that what happened on Jan. 6 “should not ever and cannot happen again.”
“There is a need for deterrence here,” Kelly stated.
Earlier in the hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason McCullough emphasized the gravity of the Proud Boys’ actions on Jan. 6, calling them “among the most serious crimes that this court will consider.” “There’s a reason why we will hold our collective breath as we approach future elections,” McCullough said. “We never gave it a second thought before Jan. 6.”
According to McCullough, Americans will think twice about bringing children to polling places or attending events like the inauguration after Jan. 6. McCullough asserted that this is what the Proud Boys intended.
Quintessential Political Behavior Turned Violent
PICTURE: Police in riot gear standing behind yellow caution tape that reads “Police Line Do Not Cross”. PHOTO: COURTESY OF: Unsplash, Published on March 27, 2021.
“Need For Deterrence”: Proud Boy Joe Biggs Sentenced to 17 Years. Biggs’ lawyer, Norm Pattis, admitted his client committed some crimes on Jan. 6 but said they were “overstated.” Pattis argued that prosecutors used his client’s political speech as evidence of criminal intent when the Proud Boys’ actions on Jan. 6 were “quintessential political behavior” until the riot turned violent. “We have to be careful to count speech for what it is and not what it might do,” he said. “To treat these men as terrorists would be, in my view, the functional equivalent as the destruction of Waco,” said Pattis.
Harsh punishment for the Proud Boys would make “people afraid to go to protests,” Pattis contended. If a riot became violent, rioters “incendiary speech might be used against them,” argued Pattis.
Kelly said it was “fair game” to consider protected speech evidence of criminal intent. “People’s fear that if they get violent, their words will be used against them. There’s simply no legal reason why that can’t be,” he explained. However, he agreed that the Proud Boys’ behavior, while “extremely serious,” was not the same as attempting to “blow up a skyscraper.”
Despite applying the terrorism enhancement to Biggs, Kelly agreed that enhancement “overstates” Biggs’ behavior. “It’s not my job to label you a terrorist, and my sentence today won’t do that, no matter what it is,” he told Biggs. Before delivering the sentence, Kelly added, “That’s for other people to argue about.”
We Don’t Have It Anymore
“What happened on Jan. 6 harmed an important American custom that helps support the rule of law and the Constitution,” he said. “That day broke our tradition of peacefully transferring power, which is among the most precious things that we had as Americans. Notice I said had. We don’t have it anymore.”
There have been more than 1100 charges filed against people involved in the Capitol riots. Of these, there have been more than 600 convictions and sentences handed down against them.
URBT News reached out to Republican strategist, Aisha Owmby, to see what, if any, effect Joe Biggs’ sentence might have on the upcoming presidential election cycle. According to Owmby, Biggs’ sentence “will not affect the presidential election cycle.” While what happened on January 6 will be remembered and discussed, Biggs’ incarceration will be “old news.”
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