Democracy Fights Back
The former Proud Boys leader Joseph Biggs had some kind parting words for federal Judge Timothy Kelly after he was sentenced to 17 years in prison for his involvement in the January 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Joseph Biggs, a U.S. Army veteran, and former Infowars staffer, was apprehended in Florida less than two weeks after the riot and charged with seditious conspiracy and other felonies, including obstructing an official congressional proceeding, illegal entry, and disorderly conduct on restricted Capitol grounds. His trial lasted about four months.
“You’ve all done a hell of a job…. I thank you for all your hard work… I respect the process and I respect the outcome. I don’t agree with it, and that’s why I’m appealing… I pray for all of you,” Biggs said Thursday in the courtroom,
The Hammer Has Fallen
A tearful and remorseful Biggs reportedly apologized for his “rhetoric” and said it was his crutch in dealing with family problems, noting that his young daughter was molested by a family member. He also said he is not a terrorist.
The court viewed it differently, however. Kelly, a U.S. District judge who was appointed by former President Donald Trump in 2017, accepted the government’s recommendation to label Biggs’ crimes as acts of terrorism by using threats and use of force to influence governmental actions.
In January, Kelly ruled that prosecutors could use Trump’s “stand back and stand by” directive to the Proud Boys, which he said during a presidential debate against Joe Biden, as evidence in the case against Biggs and other members of the group.
Zachary Rehl, a former leader of the Proud Boys Philadelphia chapter, was also supposed to be sentenced Thursday. Federal prosecutors had sought 30 years in prison for him.
The January 6 Capitol Riots
On January 6, 2021, following the defeat of President Donald Trump in the 2020 US Presidential Election, the leadership of the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, two far-right militias, plotted to use force to stop the peaceful transition of power, culminating in an attack on the US Capitol Building in Washington, D.C; the seat of the United States Congress, the legislative branch of the federal government.
The attackers sought to keep Trump in power by preventing a joint session of Congress from counting the Electoral College votes to formalize the victory of President Joe Biden
The attack was the culmination of a seven-part plan by Trump to overturn Biden’s win. Five people died either shortly before, during, or following the event: one was shot by Capitol Police, another died of a drug overdose, and three died of natural causes. Many people were injured, including 138 police officers. Four officers who responded to the attack died by suicide within seven months. As of July 7, 2022, monetary damages caused by attackers exceed $2.7 million.
Incited by Trmp, thousands of his supporters gathered in Washington, D.C., on January 5 and 6 to support his false allegation that the 2020 election had been “stolen by emboldened radical-left Democrats and to demand that Vice President Mike Pence and the Congress reject Biden’s victory. Starting at noon on January 6, at a “Save America” rally on the Ellipse, Trump gave a speech in which he repeated false claims of election irregularities, and though he encouraged his supporters to march to the Capitol to peacefully make their voices heard, he said, “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore”.During and after his speech, thousands of attendees, some armed, walked to the Capitol, and hundreds breached police perimeters as Congress was beginning the electoral vote count.
More than 2,000 rioters entered the building, many of whom vandalized and looted parts of it including the offices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of Congress. Rioters also assaulted Capitol Police officers and reporters and attempted to locate lawmakers to capture and harm them .
Gallows were erected west of the Capitol, and some rioters chanted “Hang Mike Pence” after he rejected false claims by Trump and others that the vice president could overturn the election results. With building security breached, Capitol Police evacuated and locked down both chambers of Congress and several buildings in the Capitol Complex. Rioters occupied the empty Senate Chamber while federal law enforcement officers defended the evacuated House floor. Pipe Bombs were found at each of the Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee headquarters.
Trump refused to send the National Guard to quell the mob. Later that afternoon, in a Twitter video, he reasserted that the election was “fraudulent”, and told his supporters to “go home in peace”.The Capitol was clear of rioters by mid-evening, and the counting of the electoral votes resumed and was completed in the early morning hours of January 7. Pence declared President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris victorious. Pressured by his cabinet, the threat of removal, and many resignations, Trump later committed to an orderly transition of power in a televised statement.
A week after the riot, the House of Representatives impeached Trump for incitement making him the only U.S. president to have been impeached twice. In February, after Trump had left office, the Senate voted 57–43 in favor of conviction, but as it fell short of a two-thirds majority, he was acquitted for a second time. Republicans in the Senate blocked a bill to create a bipartisan independent commission to investigate the attack, so instead the House approved a select committee with seven Democrats and two Republicans to investigate. The committee held nine televised public hearings on the attack.
This process has seen Trump face multiple cases in court