On Thursday, two former leaders affiliated with the right-wing organization known as the Proud Boys were handed substantial sentences for their involvement in the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. These sentences represent some of the lengthiest penalties imposed on individuals connected to the 2021 attack. Joseph Biggs, who previously led the Florida chapter of the group, has been sentenced to 17 years in federal prison, while Zachary Rehl, the former leader of the Philadelphia chapter, received a 15-year sentence.

In May, both individuals were found guilty of seditious conspiracy and additional charges, alongside other prominent figures within the Proud Boys, including Enrique Tarrio, the group’s former national chair. Tarrio is scheduled for sentencing in the upcoming week. These severe sentences underscore the viewpoint of the Justice Department and the presiding judge that the Proud Boys played a significant role as organizers, planners, and executors of the events on January 6.

Andy Campbell, a senior editor at HuffPost and author of a book about the Proud Boys, observed that these sentences reflect the recognition that Proud Boys leaders held pivotal positions in orchestrating the riots of January 6. He further notes that the Proud Boys maintained close connections with influential allies of former President Trump. This suggests a level of awareness regarding the potential for violence on January 6 when Trump encouraged his supporters to march on the Capitol. In Campbell’s words, “We are confronted with a deeply rooted extremist crisis at the highest echelons of right-wing governance.”

Democracy Now