Written by Louis Hardiman
“This is Awesome”: Joseph Biggs Prosecuted for Role in Capitol Riots.
On January 6th 2021, Proud Boys activist and organizer Joseph Biggs stormed into the capital building and exclaimed “this is awesome!”. Biggs is one of the four Proud Boy leaders indicted by a federal grand jury on conspiracy charges. Biggs has long been a key figure in the American far-right and is alleged to have connections with the Republican Party.
Biggs’ identity is largely based on his military background. He claims to have distinguished himself on the battlefield, being awarded two Purple Hearts for his service in Iraq and Afghanistan
Biggs has long been a member of the American far-right. His working past involves being a staff member on Alex Jones’s conspiracy theory show InfoWars for 7 years. Until his arrest, he worked for the radically conservative Censored.tv online news site.
Biggs considers himself to be a ‘leader of men’ but has denied holding any official leadership roles in the Proud Boys. It is undeniable that he is closely connected to the Proud Boys’ leadership. Biggs has admitted being “best friends” with the Proud Boys’ leader Henry ‘Enrique’ Tarrio. He also appears as an agent on official Proud Boys’ business documentation which has been taken as a sign of seniority.
Biggs has long been intimately involved in the Proud Boys’ rhetoric of violence before. His online activities were a key part of the legal case of the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church against the Proud Boys. Footage of Biggs before the August 2019 Portland Proud Boys rally was unearthed by the Churches’ legal team. The footage shows Biggs grasping a baseball bat and wearing a T-shirt with “Just Here for the Violence” written on it. He is heard stating “we’re going to put this to good use”.
Biggs’ connections to the Republican Party establishment have been a matter of controversy. A selfie emerged of Biggs and Senator Lindsay Graham shortly after the Capitol Riots. Far-right activist Cassandra Fairbanks has also claimed that she saw the two men having a meal together. However, Graham’s team has strongly denied the allegations that the two know each other. They say that the selfie was “one of tens of thousands of selfies Senator Graham has taken with individuals” and it does not reflect any support for Biggs.
Involvement in Capital Riots
Biggs began urging Proud Boy members to join the capital riot from December 2020. He suggested on the conservative social media network Parler, that the Proud Boys should attempt to fit in with the crowd and avoid being identifiable. Clear attempts to intimidate Antifa activists can be found in what Biggs wrote. He wrote, “We are going to smell like you, move like you, look like you. The only thing we’ll do that’s us is think like us”.
Biggs’ role in the Capitol Riots increased from a minor organizer to the alleged role of “Lead-Coordinator” after the arrest of Proud Boys leader Henry ‘Enrique’ Tarrio on January 4th for the burning of a Black Lives Matter banner.
On January 6th, Biggs was seen leading a Proud Boys group marching on Constitution Avenue, chanting “F*** Antifa”. He has been pictured in the protest before the storming of the Capitol cheering and wearing a dark plaid shirt, black beanie hat, and glasses.
The fact that Biggs gained entry to the Capitol building is clear. Biggs was pictured at the Capitol riots after pulling his mask down upon entry to the Capitol building and a video of him entering the Capitol building amongst other Proud Boy activists was uploaded to Parler.
Biggs has denied his physical involvement with the Capitol Riots. In an interview with the Daily Mail he stated “the entire time I was there I felt bad, I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t touch anything. I didn’t steal anything. There was no ill intent other than I really need a f****ing piss. I went to the bathroom, washed my hands and found another cop and asked him how the hell do I get out of here?” When asked what he meant by ‘this is awesome’ Biggs claims he meant it was “awful” and “awe-inspiring”. An affidavit created by an investigating FBI agent disagrees and suggests that he “smiled broadly” when calling the storming of the Capitol “awesome”.
Biggs was arrested on January 20th. His trial has been brimming with political impetus and attempts to anger leftists. In footage of Biggs leaving federal court after being formally charged, he is wearing a T-shirt reading “Register Communists, Not Firearms”.
The prosecution of Biggs is based on an affidavit created by an investigating FBI agent. The affidavit states that Biggs unlawfully did “obstruct an official proceeding”, “enter and remain in a restricted building” and engaged in “disruptive conduct”. The charge of conspiracy raises the stakes further. In an attempt to stop Biggs from getting bail, the prosecution has argued that Biggs is a danger “not only based on his potential violence, but violence by others who undoubtably still support him”.
Biggs’ main defense counters the idea that Biggs is a danger to society. His defense team point to his close relations with law enforcement. From late 2018, Biggs’ defense claims that FBI agents in Jacksonville and Daytona Beach engaged in “cautionary” phone calls with Biggs relating to provocative statements he had made on social media. Biggs’ defense could cause controversy as Biggs also claims that the FBI wanted his knowledge of Antifa for intelligence purposes. Biggs’ defense states “they wanted to know what Biggs was seeing on the ground”. These allegations could justify fears that the law enforcement community has too many connections with the radical right.
The Future for Joseph Biggs
The wheels of justice turn slowly, and it will be months before the fate of Joseph Biggs is sealed. The New York Times estimates that, if found guilty, Biggs could face “decades in prison”. The trial is undoubtedly the most important moment of Biggs’ life. But the fate of the Proud Boys also rests on the judge and jury’s shoulders. The trial is a stunning moment in American history, where the limits of far-right activity will finally be set. Lengthy prosecution will force the Proud Boys underground, no doubt radicalizing them further. Should Biggs be found not guilty or be lightly sentenced, a sense of legal legitimacy will be bestowed on the methods of the Proud Boys.