Considering the FBI’s history with COINTELPRO, it isn’t a great look that they used a leader of the Proud Boys to inform them about people standing up to Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and the Proud Boys themselves.
According to NBC News, a court filing revealed that before he was arrested after being among those who stormed the Capitol on Jan.6, Proud Boy leader Joseph Biggs was recruited by FBI agents in July 2020 to inform them about what he was “seeing on the ground,” with regard to antifa. Biggs’ lawyer, J. Daniel Hull, claimed in the filing that Biggs spoke with the two agents frequently. The court filing claimed that the agents would give Biggs “cautionary” calls that weren’t only looking for information, but also gave Biggs advice on how he should proceed with certain Proud Boys events.
“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,” Hull wrote.
From NBC News:
The FBI and the Justice Department had launched a number of investigations into extremist groups around that time. They were focused on whether people were violating federal law by crossing state lines to commit violence or whether anyone was paying to send antifa followers to commit violence, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press. The official could not discuss the investigations publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.
FBI agents responded to police stations in several cities, including New York, to question suspects arrested during protests and focused on those who self-identified as followers of the movement, the official said.
But investigators struggled to make any cases, in part because there is no hierarchical structure to antifa; it’s not a single organization but rather an umbrella term for far-left-leaning militant groups that confront or resist neo-Nazis and white supremacists at demonstrations, according to the official.
Do you generally not fuck with fascism and white supremacy? Congrats! You’re in antifa.
It’s been known since like 2016 that antifa isn’t an actual organization, so the fact that the FBI decided to cozy up with a Proud Boy, as protests against police brutality and white supremacy were surging, is certainly telling. It sends the message that violent white supremacists aren’t the problem, the people who confront them are.
Which, I mean, that’s just America being America. I can’t say I’m surprised that an institution built on preserving white supremacy is operating as originally intended.
Advocates, such as Eric Ward, executive director of the Western States Center, an organization that tracks hate groups, have found the revelation that some FBI agents were working with a Proud Boy disturbing and only furthers the notion that law enforcement is sympathetic towards and unnecessarily close with many far-right organizations.
“Law enforcement has no credible reason for working with someone like Biggs. It’s long past time for a clear accounting of institutional and professional law enforcement relationships with groups espousing political violence at home and abroad,” Ward told NBC News in an email.
Biggs and three other Proud Boys were indicted earlier this month on charges that they helped coordinate and plan an attack on the Capitol to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s electoral college victory. Biggs’ lawyers are currently arguing that he shouldn’t be incarcerated while he awaits trial as his information was essential to helping the FBI “gather intelligence about antifa in Florida and antifa networks operating across the United States.”