Proud Boys leader released, must leave DC before Trump rally

Henry Tarrio pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to charges related to burning of Black Lives Matter banner.

Proud Boys chairman Henry 'Enrique' Tarrio speaks at a rally in Portland, Oregon, on September 26, 2020 [File: Jim Urquhart/Reuters]

The leader of the right-wing Proud Boys group was ordered to leave Washington, DC, on Tuesday until a June court appearance in relation to felony and misdemeanour charges, according to court filings.

Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, 36, was arrested on Monday by DC police on misdemeanour charges related to the burning of a Black Lives Matter banner allegedly torn from a historically Black church in the US capital.

After his arrest, police found “two high capacity .556 caliber firearm magazines” inside Tarrio’s “personal book bag”, according to court filings, leading to two felony charges of Possession of a Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device.

DC Police Officer Ahsan Mufti said in an affidavit the magazines, which were not loaded, were used for 5.56X45mm NATO (.223 Remington) rounds that would fit an AR-15 assault rifle.

During the post-arrest interview, Tarrio allegedly stated that he sells the magazines and “had a customer that bought those two mags, and they got returned ‘cause it was a wrong address”.

A person wearing a shirt with Proud Boys on it joins supporters of President Donald Trump in a march Saturday November 14, 2020, in Washington [File: Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo]

Tarrio did not want to answer questions about the alleged burning of the BLM banner that occurred on December 12, according to the affidavit.

Court documents also list social media posts on Parler, a social media platform to which many right-wing activists and politicians have turned after facing what they call censorship from other social media.

One of the Parler posts appears to show Tarrio saying, “Against the wishes of my attorney I am here to admit that I am the person responsible for burning of this sign.”

The sign was burned during a December protest that saw right-wing demonstrators, including some wearing the black and yellow colours associated with the Proud Boys, clashing with counterprotesters.

The Proud Boys, designated at “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, have repeatedly demonstrated in favour of President Donald Trump during his term.

Online video showed people pouring fuel on a BLM banner near the Asbury United Methodist Church and setting it ablaze. A report filed inside the complaint against Tarrio said the burning was “perceived … to be a hate crime”.

Tarrio, who is of Cuban descent, has previously stated he did not burn the sign out of hate, but “out of love” for the US.

Tarrio pleaded not guilty to the charges through his lawyer. He was ordered to leave DC until his next court appearance in June.

The arrest and order to leave DC came before a large rally for US President Donald Trump as US legislators affirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

A post shows Tarrio saying on Parler the Proud Boys would be “out in record numbers” on January 6, the day the victory will be affirmed.

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has asked residents to stay at home and not engage “with demonstrators who come to our city seeking confrontation”.


Source: Al Jazeera