October 27, 2021

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Proud Boys leader arrested for burning Black Lives Matter banner

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Proud Boys leader arrested for burning Black Lives Matter banner

Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was arrested by D.C. police on Monday afternoon on a warrant charging him for burning a Black Lives Matter banner taken from a historic Black church during a demonstration last month, officials said.

Police stopped a vehicle Tarrio had been in shortly after it entered the District, said Dustin Sternbeck, a D.C. police spokesman. He said it is believed that Tarrio, who lives in Miami, was coming into the District from the airport.

Sternbeck said Tarrio is charged with one misdemeanor count of destruction of property in connection with the Dec. 12 burning of a banner stolen from Asbury United Methodist Church.

Tarrio had told The Washington Post last month that he was among those who burned the banner.

Police said Tarrio was also charged with two felony counts of possession of high-capacity ammunition feeding devices. The devices were found during the arrest, police said.

Tarrio could appear Tuesday in D.C. Superior Court. Prosecutors with the U.S. attorney’s office in the District could modify the charges brought by police.

Authorities had described the burning of the banner as a potential hate crime. Sternbeck said it would be up to prosecutors to determine whether to file hate crime charges, which could increase the penalty.

Tarrio last month told The Post that he would plead guilty to destruction of property, pay the church the cost of the banner and surrender to authorities if a criminal charge were filed.

However, Tarrio said it wasn’t a hate crime.

He said he was not motivated by race, religion, or political ideology, but because he believes the Black Lives Matter movement “has terrorized the citizens of this country.”

D.C. police have classified the burning as a destruction of property, a misdemeanor when damage is under $1,000. It is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Tarrio said he does not know who tore down the banner, and that neither he nor his members knew the church is predominantly African American. “We didn’t Google the church and go, ‘Oh, it’s a Black church, let’s target it,’ ” Tarrio said. “The sign was taken down because of what it represents.”

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