Prosecutors said in federal district court in Washington that Joseph Biggs was a central figure in the “seditious conspiracy” of January 2021. The investigating officers described the leader of the right-wing radical Proud Boys as one of the most violent rioters. At the time, the attackers wanted to prevent Congress from finally confirming Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the November 2020 presidential election.
The public prosecutor’s office had demanded 33 years in prison for the former soldier Biggs, a significantly longer sentence than the 17 years ultimately imposed. Judge Timothy Kelly based his sentence on the fact that Biggs did not intend to kill anyone. However, “deterrence” is necessary: the attack broke with “our tradition of the peaceful transfer of power. One of the most valuable things we had as Americans.”
Before the verdict was announced, Biggs tearfully assured that he no longer wanted anything to do with the Proud Boys. He knows that he “messed up,” but he is “not a terrorist.”
The Proud Boys are a fascist and anti-feminist militia that is classified as a terrorist organization in Canada. During the election campaign, US President Donald Trump refused to clearly condemn the group. In a TV debate with eventual election winner Joe Biden, he said: “Proud Boys – stand back and be ready.”
The co-defendant, Zachary Rehl, has to be imprisoned for 15 years. He had led at least three other Proud Boys into the Capitol and sprayed police officers on duty with gas. Rehl then posed in a deputy’s office.
In May of this year, the founder of the right-wing extremist US militia Oath Keepers, Stewart Rhodes, was sentenced to 18 years in prison for the storming of the Capitol. It is the highest punishment to date in this context.
rb/wa (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)