Leaders of Proud Boys ordered jailed on Capitol riot charges
A federal judge on Monday ordered the arrest and detention of two leaders of the far right Proud Boys extremist group while awaiting trial for planning and coordinating an attack on the U.S. Capitol to prevent Congress from winning the election to be confirmed by President Joe Biden.
Joseph Biggs and Ethan Nordean have been free since their March 10 indictment, but U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly concluded that the two men were dangerous and that no conditions could be appropriate for their release. The judge said Biggs and Nordean "facilitated political violence" even if they weren't armed and didn't attack anyone in the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Kelly has overridden another Washington, DC federal judge who ordered Nordean on remand. Biggs was freed in his home state of Florida after his first arrest on January 20. Justice Department prosecutors initially made no attempt to keep Biggs in jail, but last month called for his pre-trial release to be revoked, saying new evidence shows that he is "a major threat" to the community.
Biggs and Nordean attorneys asked Kelly to stay Monday's decision pending a possible appeal, but the judge denied her motion.
Biggs and Nordean are among more than two dozen defendants identified by federal authorities as leaders, members or associates of the Proud Boys.
Last month's indictment accused Biggs, Nordean, and two other men, identified as leaders of the Proud Boys, of conspiring to obstruct Congress certifying the election of the congressional college. Other charges in the indictment include obstruction of an official trial, obstruction of prosecution during a civil disturbance, and disorderly behavior.
Zachary Rehl and Charles Donohoe face the same indictment as Biggs and Nordean and have been incarcerated since their arrest in March.
Police arrested Proud Boys top leader Enrique Tarrio two days before the Washington uprising and accused him of destroying a Black Lives Matter banner during a December protest in a historic black church. Tarrio, ordered to stay out of the District of Columbia, was not charged in connection with the siege of the Capitol.
Nordean, 30, from Auburn, Washington, was Proud Boys Chapter President and a member of the group's national Elders Council. Biggs, 37, of Ormond Beach, Florida, is a self-described organizer of Proud Boys. Rehl, 35, from Philadelphia, and Donohoe, 33, from Kernersville, North Carolina, are indicted presidents of their local Proud Boys chapters.
Proud Boys members describe themselves as a politically incorrect men's club for "Western chauvinists". Its members have often fought street fights with anti-fascist activists at rallies and protests.
On the morning of the uprising, Biggs and Nordean met other members of the Proud Boys at the Washington Monument and led them on a march to the Capitol before then-President Donald Trump addressed thousands of supporters near the White House, the indictment said.
About two hours later, just before Congress convened a joint session to confirm the election results, the Proud Boys followed a crowd as they broke barriers at a pedestrian entrance to the Capitol grounds, the indictment said. Several proud boys also entered the Capitol itself after the mob smashed windows and forced doors.
During a March 3 hearing, US District Judge Beryl Howell accused prosecutors of tracing claims that Nordean had instructed Proud Boys members to split into smaller groups and of devising a "strategic plan" to violate the Capitol. Howell concluded, however, that Nordean was heavily involved in the "pre-planning" of the January 6th events, and that he and other proud boys were "clearly prepared for a violent confrontation" that day.
Kunzelman reported from College Park, Maryland.
In this article:
Timothy J. Kelly
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