Proud Boys Leader Arrested in Washington

Enrique Tarrio, chairman of the Proud Boys, at a pro-Trump rally/Shutterstock

The leader of the Proud Boys—a far-right, neo-fascist hate group—has been arrested in Washington, D.C.

Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, 36, was arrested Monday upon his arrival in Washington on suspicion of burning a Black Lives Matter banner torn from a historic Black church in the nation’s capital during protests last month and charged with destruction of property. Upon his arrest, Tarrio was also found to be in possession of two high-capacity firearm magazines and was subsequently charged with two felony counts of possession.

“He was charged with Destruction of Property related to an offense that occurred on Saturday, December 12, 2020, in the 900 block of 11th Street, Northwest,” D.C. Metropolitan Police Department Public Information Officer Sean Hickman told CNN. “At the time of his arrest, he was found to be in possession of two high capacity firearm magazines. He was additionally charged with Possession of High Capacity Feeding Device.”

Destruction of property is classified as a misdemeanor when damage amounts to less than $1,000 and is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Possession of a high capacity feeding device can lead to a maximum fine of $1,000 and/or up to a year imprisonment.

The Proud Boys have been influential figures at pro-Trump demonstrations, many of which have devolved into violent clashes. The most recent incident took place during last month’s Dec. 12 protests, where four people were stabbed and more than three dozen people were arrested. One of the people stabbed was a member of the Proud Boys, and the hate group reacted by burning a BLM sign outside the Asbury United Methodist Church, one of Washington’s historic Black churches. Tarrio later took credit for the decision to vandalize church property, adding that he was “damn proud” to have done it.

“Against the wishes of my attorney I am here today to admit that I am the person responsible for the burning of this sign,” Tarrio wrote on Parler, the social media platform popular among the far-right. “And I am not ashamed of what I did because I didn’t do it out of hate … I did it out of love. Love for a country that has given my family SO MUCH. The burning of this banner wasn’t about race religion or political ideology it was about a racist movement that has terrorized the citizens of this country. I will not stand by and watch them burn another city.”

The Proud Boys burned a second BLM banner at the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church—the oldest Black church in the nation’s capital—that same night, though Tarrio did not take credit for that incident.

Tarrio’s arrest comes ahead of another round of protests in Washington this week when Congress meets to certify the results of the Electoral College. The National Guard has been deployed in the capital ahead of the planned protests on Jan. 6, as several pro-Trump and far-right groups are expected to attend, including the Proud Boys, whom Tarrio claimed would “turn out in record numbers.” He added that the Proud Boys “will not be wearing our traditional Black and Yellow,” instead going “incognito.”

“The night calls for a BLACK tie event,” Tarrio wrote at the time.