WASHINGTON – Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was arrested Monday by Washington, D.C., police for burning a Black Lives Matter banner taken from a historic Black church during a December demonstration. His arrest also led to two felony weapons charges.
The arrest came shortly after Tarrio landed in the nation’s capital to attend rallies protesting President Donald Trump’s loss in the Nov. 3 election, USA Today reported.
Tarrio was on a phone call with a USA Today reporter when authorities stopped the vehicle in which he was a passenger.
Dustin Sternbeck, a D.C. police spokesman, told The Washington Post that Tarrio, 36, is charged with one misdemeanor count of destruction of property in connection with the Dec. 12 burning of the banner stolen from Asbury United Methodist Church.
Authorities had described the burning of the banner as a potential hate crime, but Sternbeck said it would be up to prosecutors to determine if hate crime charges are filed, which could increase the penalty, the Post reported.
Police also confirmed that Tarrio was charged with two felony counts of possession of high-capacity ammunition feeding devices. The devices were found during the arrest, the Post reported.
Earlier in the day, Tarrio was also named in a lawsuit filed in Washington, D.C. Superior Court by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in relation to the banner-burning incident. The suit cites multiple instances of Proud Boys posting threatening and violent messages on social media before the Dec. 12 rally that resulted in violence across downtown D.C., USA Today reported.
Designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Proud Boys were founded in 2016 by VICE Media co-founder Gavin McInnes as a faction of self-described “Western chauvinists,” who view themselves as a fraternal group spreading an “anti-political correctness” and “anti-white guilt” agenda. The group’s name is taken from the song, “Proud of Your Boy,” an outtake of the Disney musical “Aladdin.”
McInnes has since left the group but not before he sued the SPLC for defamation for labeling the Proud Boys a hate group. Meanwhile, a 2018 report from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office in Vancouver, Washington state, revealed that the FBI called the Proud Boys “an extremist group with ties to White Nationalism,” USA Today reported.
According to the Post, the “men’s club” believes in ending welfare, closing borders and adhering to traditional gender roles.
Meanwhile, the group also claims to support small government, closed borders and “Venerating the Housewife,” according to the SPLC.
Read more here.
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