The international chairman of the controversial far-right group Proud Boys was arrested on Monday in Washington for burning a church’s Black Lives Matter banner, according to The Christian Post.
A District of Columbia police spokesperson told reporters that the 36-year-old Henry “Enrique” Tarrio participated in burning the Asbury United Methodist Church’s banner at a rally earlier in December and was charged with one misdemeanor count of destruction of property.
Tarrio, a staunch Trump supporter who lives in Miami, was arrested shortly after arriving in DC for protests planned by the president’s advocates on Wednesday, the day Congress will likely vote to affirm Joe Biden’s election victory. Police will also charge him for carrying two high-capacity firearm magazines when he was arrested, as reported by Syracuse.
Earlier in December, a pro-Trump rally turned violent when counter-protesters tried to keep them from entering the Black Lives Matter plaza near the White House. Two Black Lives Matter signs were stolen and burned near Asbury Church while the crowd cheered. Over 30 people were arrested and four were stabbed.
Tarrio admitted to The Washington Post that he had helped in burning the sign and agreed to plead guilty for destruction of property. He also promised to pay back the church for the cost of the banner. The Proud Boys leader, however, said the banner burning was not a hate crime. He believes the Black Lives Matter movement “has terrorized the citizens of this country.”
Chairman of the church council, Robert Mallett, refused to interact with Tarrio.
“We survived slavery, the backlash to reconstruction, Jim Crow, segregation, we worked through the Civil Rights movement, stood for the anti-apartheid movement—in which two of our pastors were arrested—and we are proud to support a movement that is trying to make the world understand that Black bodies matter as much as White bodies,” Mallet said. “That is back up and it’s going to stay up,” he said in relation to the banner.
“I don’t know what the person who perpetrated this crime is suggesting, but we are a church that believes in equality and justice, and while we will pray for him, our activism will remain.”
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Mikaela Mathews is a freelance writer and editor based in Dallas, TX. She was the editor of a local magazine and a contributing writer for the Galveston Daily News and Spirit Magazine.