FOX 35 investigates 'Proud Boys' after Central Florida member is arrested
ORLANDO, Fla. - After Ormond Beach resident Joseph Biggs was federally charged for his alleged role in the Capitol riot, a lot of people are wondering who are the Proud Boys and how prevalent are they in Central Florida.
Biggs is a self-proclaimed member of the organization, which the Southern Poverty Law Center designates as a hate group.
"Joe Biggs is a very prominent figure for those who cover far-right extremism," said Michael Edison Hayden, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) senior investigative reporter, and spokesperson.
According to the SPLC, the Proud Boys have five chapters in Florida, including Orlando.
RELATED: Proud Boys organizer arrested in Florida on charges related to Capitol riot
"Florida is becoming kind of a hotbed for far-right extremist views," Hayden said.
Experts say the Proud Boys are organized and have members spread across the country.
"Anti-immigrant hatred, anti-Muslim hatred – those types of things are extremely commonplace among the Proud Boys," Hayden told FOX 35 News.
RELATED: Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio released, ordered to stay away from DC
The group has been spreading those messages during protests. In Washington on January 6, federal agents say members of the Proud Boys appeared to be wearing earpieces when they stormed the U.S. Capitol.
"It’s not uncommon. In fact, it’s become almost standard that Proud Boys come with sometimes bulletproof vests and militarized-looking gear to these events. So for them to be coordinating in that manner in the same way that first responders would, police would, isn’t surprising at all, and in fact, should serve as a wake-up call as to how serious these guys have become when appearing in places," Hayden said.
FOX 35 News tried reaching out to the attorney representing Biggs for comment on the charges he’s facing and didn’t hear back.
Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the latest Central Florida news.