Update (1532ET): Tarrio has now been banned from the national capital after being arrested on suspicion of vandalizing a BLM banner and found in possession of high capacity gun magazines.
The order bars the 36-year-old from entering the District of Columbia except to meet with his lawyer or appear in court. He has been charged with destroying property and faces weapons charges.
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The leader of the Proud Boys, the group that has vigorously supported President Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results, was arrested on Monday for destruction of property after arriving in Washington to protest Congressional certification of the election over late this week, the NYT and WaPo reported.
The president of the Proud Boys – a Latin man named Enrique Tarrio – was arrested by Metropolitan Police on suspicion of burning a Black Lives Matter banner torn from a historic black Washington church during protests last month that led to several violent clashes, including stabbing, around the city.
Police stopped a car Tarrio was in shortly after entering the district, said Dustin Sternbeck, a spokesperson for the DC Police Department. He said that Tarrio, who lives in Miami, is believed to be arriving in the district from the airport. Sternbeck said Tarrio was charged with one count of destruction of property in connection with the fire on December 12 of a banner stolen from the United Methodist Church in Asbury.
A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police Department confirmed that Tarrio, 36, was arrested for destroying property following an incident in mid-December in downtown Washington. Police said Tarrio, who was in police custody Monday evening, was also charged with two counts of possession of high capacity ammunition supply devices, a legal term for a gun magazine which Allows weapons to contain additional bullets. The devices were found during the arrest, police said.
Members of the Proud Boys are planning a rally in the district on Wednesday to support President Trump and his efforts to overturn the election result. Trump urged his supporters to descend on Washington to express their dismay at the certification of the election of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. On New Years Day, he promoted what he described as “the BIG protest rally ”in Washington.
Tarrio had told the Washington Post last month that he was among those who burned the banner. The church banner was pulled down after a similar rally last month.
According to WaPo, Tarrio could appear in Washington Superior Court on Tuesday. Prosecutors from the U.S. district attorney’s office could change charges laid by police. Authorities had called the banner fire a potential hate crime. Sternbeck said it would be up to prosecutors to determine whether to lay hate crime charges, which could increase the sentence.
Tarrio told the Post last month that he would plead guilty to destroying property, pay the church the cost of the banner and surrender to authorities if a criminal charge is filed. “Let me keep it simple,” he says. “I did it.”
However, Tarrio said he would not admit to committing 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.”
The Proud Boys, along with members of the antifa were caught in protests and marches in mid-December that gave way to violent clashes between Trump supporters, antifa and law enforcement. , as well as vandalism and destruction of property in the city’s churches, including historic Black Churches. Local police said at the time that they would investigate attacks on churches as potential hate crimes.
The banner that Tarrio said took part in the fire was taken from Asbury United Methodist, one of the city’s oldest black churches. DC Police have classified the fire as destruction of property, a misdemeanor when the damage is less than $ 1,000. He is liable to 180 days in jail and a fine of $ 1,000.
Tarrio previously said he didn’t know who brought down the banner and neither he nor his members knew the church was predominantly African-American. “We don’t Google the church and we said, ‘Oh, it’s a black church, let’s target it,’” Tarrio said. “The sign was removed because of what it represents.”
Washington is bracing for another round of protests on Wednesday, when the Senate meets to certify the Electoral College’s results. Pro-Trump groups, including the Proud Boys, are expected to protest and law enforcement will brace for more violence.
Tarrio had said on Speak that the Proud Boys “would show up in record numbers on January 6”, but would disperse across town “incognito”.
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