Title: Far-right Proud Boys Leader Sentenced to 17 Years in Connection with US Capitol Riot
Subtitle: US Army Veteran Joe Biggs Labeled Instigator of January 6 Storming of Congress
Date: August 31, 2023
In a landmark ruling, Joe Biggs, a leader of the far-right group Proud Boys, has been sentenced to 17 years in prison for his involvement in the US Capitol riot on January 6, 2021. The sentencing, one of the longest yet handed down over the incident, was delivered by US District Judge Timothy Kelly.
Prosecutors argued that Biggs, a US Army veteran and former Infowars correspondent, played a central role as an “instigator” in the storming of Congress. In May, he was convicted on charges including seditious conspiracy, conspiracy to use intimidation or threats to prevent officials from discharging their duties, and interference with law enforcement during civil disorder.
During the court proceedings, Biggs expressed remorse for his actions and pleaded for leniency. He claimed that he was “seduced” by the crowd on the day of the riot, stating, “I’m not a terrorist. I don’t have hate in my heart.” However, prosecutors painted a different picture, describing Biggs’s use of his military experience to direct and control a large group of individuals, leading a “revolt against the government.”
While the sentence falls below federal sentencing guidelines and the 33 years sought by prosecutors, Judge Kelly justified his ruling by stating that the 6 January riot, while significant, paled in comparison to other mass casualty events. He also cited the need to avoid sentencing disparities among convicted rioters.
The sentencing of another Proud Boys member, Zachary Rehl, to 15 years on charges of seditious conspiracy was also announced last Thursday. Rehl, a former US Marine and leader of the Philadelphia branch of the Proud Boys, was captured on video spraying a chemical irritant at officers outside the Capitol during the riot.
Enrique Tarrio, a former chair of the Proud Boys, was scheduled to be sentenced alongside Biggs but the proceeding was abruptly postponed. Prosecutors are seeking a 33-year sentence for Tarrio, and his sentencing is now set to take place next week.
Both Biggs and Tarrio plan to appeal against their convictions. The Proud Boys involved in the case assert that their actions were part of a coordinated effort to disrupt the certification of the 2020 election.
The sentencing of Joe Biggs and the ongoing legal actions associated with the US Capitol riot serve as a reminder of the gravity of the attack. Prosecutors argue that stiff sentences send a message ahead of future elections and prevent the nation from teetering on the brink of a constitutional crisis.
Since the riot, over 1,100 individuals have been arrested on charges related to the incident. This has resulted in over 630 guilty pleas and 110 convictions. Among the prominent figures sentenced in connection with the attack, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes received an 18-year prison term in May.
As the country continues to reckon with the aftermath of the US Capitol riot, these court rulings reaffirm the commitment to upholding the rule of law and holding accountable those responsible for the unprecedented breach of democracy.
Video Caption: WATCH: When the Proud Boys marched on the Capitol on January 6, 2021