Proud Boys organizer Joseph Randall Biggs was arrested in Florida on Wednesday after the FBI alleged that members of the far-right nationalist group appeared equipped with walkie-talkie-style communication devices and earpieces that could enable “real-time communication” during the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Biggs made an initial appearance in federal court Wednesday, where he did not enter a plea. U.S. Magistrate Judge Embry Kidd of Orlando released him to home confinement after prosecutors did not request his detention. He denied having any knowledge of preplanning of the event in an interview with the FBI, court documents said.
According to charging papers, Biggs was among the first to enter the Capitol during the riot at about 2:13 p.m., part of a mob that delayed the electoral vote certification of President Biden’s election victory and forced the evacuation of Congress. Biggs was seen on video 20 seconds after someone who appears to be already-charged Proud Boys member Dominic Pezzola led the smashing of a window on the Senate side of the building with a riot shield, an FBI affidavit alleged.
“Hey Biggs, what do you gotta say?” an off-screen voice said as Biggs allegedly walked in, according to an FBI agent who cited video recorded at the time of entry.
“This is awesome!” the FBI alleged Biggs replied before pulling his gaiter up to cover his face.
Biggs — facing counts of obstructing an official proceeding of Congress, illegal entry and disorderly conduct on restricted Capitol grounds — is the latest Proud Boys member to be charged in the storming of the Capitol. But charging papers laid out details about the degree of the group’s activities.
A self-described organizer for the nationalist and “Western chauvinist” group, Biggs echoed Proud Boys Chairman Enrique Tarrio’s Dec. 29 call for members to “turn out in record numbers” to the pro-Trump demonstration in attire other than their typical yellow and black clothing, according to charging papers.
“We will be blending in as one of you . . . We are going to smell like you, move like you, and look like you. The only thing we’ll do that’s us is think like us!” court documents said Biggs posted on or around that same day. The FBI said it was a taunt aimed at antifa, a far-left anti-fascist movement whose adherents sometimes engage in violent clashes with right-wing extremists.
That day, a live-streamed Proud Boys video showed someone who appeared to be Biggs helping direct a group of dozens in blaze-orange hats, camouflage backpacks and military-style vests, according to court documents. The Proud Boys group appeared to assemble that morning at the east side of the building, then circle the building to link up with milling supporters of President Donald Trump on the West Front at about 12:48 p.m.
Minutes later, the crowd surged forward, toppled barricades and overwhelmed a handful of police officers, the FBI affidavit said.
The FBI said Biggs and at least one person he was with appeared to carry walkie-talkie-style two-way communication devices.
Multiple others were photographed or recorded with earpieces, including Pezzola and others believed to be associated with the Proud Boys, “which could be used to receive communications from others in real time,” the FBI said.
Biggs spoke with agents Monday and admitted entering the Capitol building without forcing entry, the FBI said.
Biggs informed an interviewing agent “that the doors of the Capitol were wide open,” charging papers said. They said Biggs also “denied having any knowledge of any pre-planning of storming the Capitol, and had no idea who planned it.”
Tarrio had planned to attend Trump’s Jan. 6 rally but was arrested when he arrived in D.C. He had been charged with misdemeanor destruction of property in connection with the burning of a Black Lives Matter banner taken from a Black church during an earlier protest in Washington. He is also accused of felony possession of two high-capacity firearm magazines.
Tarrio told The Washington Post last week that his group did not organize the Capitol siege.
“If they think we were organizing going into the Capitol, they’re going to be sadly mistaken,” he said. “Our plan was to stay together as a group and just enjoy the day. We weren’t going to do a night march, anything like that. That’s it as far as our day.”