By MYAH WARD
The national leader of the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group, pleaded guilty Monday to two charges, including one involving the burning of a Black Lives Matter banner stolen from a Washington, D.C., church.
Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, 37, of Miami, Fla., pleaded guilty in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to one count of destruction of property and a local weapons charge, according to a Department of Justice press release.
Each offense carries a maximum sentence of 180 days in prison, and/or a $1,000 fine. Tarrio’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Aug. 23, and the court has ordered him to stay away from Washington, D.C. before his hearing.
On Dec. 12, 2020, a group of Proud Boys, including Tarrio, stole a banner that read #BLACKLIVESMATTER from the property of the Asbury United Methodist Church. The banner also had the the logo and website address of the church, the city’s oldest black Methodist church.
At the intersection of 11th and E Streets NW, numerous unidentified members of the group crouched down and set the banner on fire using lighter fluid and lighters. Tarrio took responsibility for the banner burning, posting a photo of himself holding an unlit lighter near the banner on the social media platform Parler. He also admitted to the offense in comments to multiple media outlets.
Tarrio traveled from Florida back to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 4 — two days before the Capitol insurrection — where he was arrested for the destruction of property. When police searched his book bag at the time of the arrest, they found two high-capacity firearm magazines, both displaying the insignia of the Proud Boys.
Tarrio told detectives he was planning to give the firearm magazines to a customer who was “also going to be present in the District of Columbia.”
Numerous members of the Proud Boys have been charged for their roles in the assault on the Capitol on Jan. 6. After Tarrio was arrested in January, the Proud Boys turned to new leaders, including Ethan Nordean, a Seattle-based Proud Boys leader, who helped coordinate the group’s role in the insurrection, according to detailed filings describing the pro-Trump, nationalist group’s activities.
In March, prosecutors unveiled new conspiracy charges against four leaders of the group, charging them with a plot to disrupt Congress’ certification of the 2020 election.