A leader of the Proud Boys who's been indicted for his role in the January 6 attack on the US Capitol had a mutually beneficial relationship with law enforcement groups in the Portland region, according to recent court filings.
Joe Biggs is one of several individuals facing charges for the Capitol attack who is associated with the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group. Biggs was first arrested in late January for obstructing an official proceeding before Congress, knowingly entering a restricted building without lawful authority, and illegally entering Congress to disrupt official business. Biggs was hit with heftier charges in mid-March, after a federal investigation found he allegedly helped plot and plan the January 6 attack.
Biggs, 37, is currently under house arrest at his Florida home. On Monday, Biggs' attorney John Hull filed a document with the federal court, arguing that Biggs didn't need to be held in jail prior to his trial date. Hull points to Biggs' years-long supportive relationship with officers with the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), including those in Portland's FBI Field Office, as evidence that Biggs shouldn't face pre-trial detention.
"The FBI has known about his political commentary and role in planning events and counter-protests in Portland and other cities since at least July 2020 and arguably benefitted from that knowledge in efforts to gather intelligence about Antifa in Florida and Antifa networks operating across the United States," the document reads. "Nothing acquired by the government... nor any of Biggs’ actions since his release supports detaining him now."
Biggs helped orchestrate several recent Proud Boys protests in Portland. In September 2020, Biggs organized a large Proud Boy rally in North Portland's Delta Park, and in August 2019, he lead a demonstration on Portland's waterfront, during which Portland police coordinated with Proud Boys organizers to keep counter-protesters from interfering. At the time, Biggs was observed shaking hands and joking with Portland police officers who helped escort the group across the Hawthorne Bridge after the demonstration ended.
According to the court filing, this was just one example of Biggs' friendly relationship with Portland-area law enforcement.
Hull writes about Biggs' process planning for the two Portland events:
"As part of the planning, Biggs would regularly speak with by phone and in person to both local and federal law enforcement personnel stationed in Portland, including the FBI’s Portland Field Office. These talks were intended both to inform law enforcement about Proud Boy activities in Portland on a courtesy basis but also to ask for advice on planned marches or demonstrations, i.e., what march routes to take on Portland streets, where to go, where not to go."
The alleged relationship sounds similar to the one between Portland Police Bureua (PPB) officers and Patriot Prayer, the Vancouver, WA based right-wing group that often collaborates with the Proud Boys. In February 2019, records obtained by the Mercury showed that Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson and PPB Lt. Jeff Niiya often corresponded via text before and during protests against left-wing groups. Niiya would often give Gibson a heads' up over text message about the plans and whereabouts of left-wing protesters during different events.
In the court filing, Hull notes that Biggs met with FBI agents in Florida last year who allegedly sought his intel on "antifa networks" across the country. It's not clear if federal agents in Portland also probed him for this information.
Asked by the Mercury to elaborate on the department's alleged correspondence with Biggs, a spokesperson from FBI's Portland Field Office said they cannot comment on an ongoing criminal case.