Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, the leader of the Proud Boys, has been released by Washington D.C. police after being arrested for burning a Black Lives Matter flag at a protest in December, the BBC reports.
The BLM flag was reportedly burned in close proximity to the Asbury United Methodist Church (A.M.E). In an interview with the Washington Post Tarrio admitted to participating in the flag burning. He also made it clear to the Post that he would admit to the destruction of property charge but denies any involvement in hate crimes.
Indeed, the Proud Boys proved to be one of the most controversial right-wing groups to burst onto the scene in 2020. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Proud Boys are an alleged extremist hate group.
Tarrio traveled to Washington D.C. ahead of a planned protest slated for Jan. 6, coinciding with a highly anticipated Congressional vote which will determine the winner of the 2020 presidential election.
Authorities issued a warrant for Tarrio’s arrest, citing destruction of property. In addition, Washington D.C. police issued weapons charges against Tarrio after two high-capacity magazines were found in his possession. Police have confirmed that the magazines in question were empty.
Tarrio told police that the empty magazines were for a customer who had purchased them from his online store.
On Tuesday, Tarrio appeared before a court and was ordered to leave Washington D.C. If Tarrio were to return for any reason it would have to be for an appointed court date or other pressing legal business per the judge’s orders.
A.M.E has been a vocal critic of anti-BLM protestors. The church said BLM flags were stolen from its property on more than one occasion. Commenting on Tarrio’s arrest, Rev. Dr. Ianther Mills, a senior pastor at A.M.E., said the community was ”in some ways of course feeling some relief.”
On Monday, A.M.E. filed a lawsuit against Tarrio and Proud Boys in a Superior District Court in Washington D.C. It remains to be seen if the U.S. Attorney will be pressing hate crime charges against Tarrio.
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