Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was sentenced Monday to more than five months in jail for burning a church’s Black Lives Matter banner in December and bringing high-capacity rifle magazines to Washington, DC, days before the US Capitol insurrection. Tarrio, who has led the far-right extremist organization since 2018, pleaded guilty in July to the two misdemeanors. Federal prosecutors had asked the judge to give Tarrio three months in jail. The decision was handed down Monday by Judge Harold L. Cushenberry Jr. of DC Superior Court. Even though Tarrio was not in Washington on the day of the January 6th insurrection, the judge said Tarrio’s preceding conduct in the nation’s capital undermined American democracy.
The case against Tarrio played out in local DC court and is separate from the sprawling federal investigation into the January 6th insurrection — during which dozens of Proud Boys stormed the building and have since been charged with conspiracy and other felonies. As part of the plea agreement, the Justice Department explicitly said it can bring “different and additional charges” against Tarrio regarding the attack on the Capitol. It’s clear from court filings that prosecutors are aggressively investigating the Proud Boys and their actions before, during, and after the January 6th riot. But it’s unclear if Tarrio will ever be charged as part of that probe.
The flag-burning incident occurred at the historically Black Asbury United Methodist Church on December 12th after Tarrio and other Proud Boys attended a pro-Trump rally in Washington that later led to violent clashes. He was arrested when he returned to DC on January 4, 2021, shortly before the Capitol insurrection, and was found with two high-capacity magazines that are banned under DC’s strict gun control laws.
After his arrest, he was released but ordered to stay out of DC — a move that senior Justice Department officials later said was intended to tamp down potential violence on January 6th.
Dear Proud Boys, the news on Enrique Tarrio should make you all quake in your boots.
What time he gets will show how bad it is for you
— Badd Company (@BaddCompani) August 23, 2021
During the hearing, Tarrio apologized directly to the church’s pastor and said he “made a grave mistake” by burning the Black Lives Matter banner and later gloating about it on social media. His attorney asked the judge to sentence Tarrio to community service instead of incarceration. “I’d like to profusely apologize for my actions… what I did was wrong,” Tarrio said.
NEW: Afro-Latino Proud Boys member Enrique Tarrio has been sentenced to 5 months imprisonment for burning Black Lives Matter banner, weapons charge. pic.twitter.com/G0nMV2uXPE
— chris evans (@chris_notcapn) August 23, 2021
But the far-right figure also painted himself as a victim of the situation, telling the judge, “I have suffered financially, socially, for what I’ve done. My family’s business has been hit pretty hard. So, what I did doesn’t only affect the church. It affects a lot more people, including my family.”
Following his sentencing, Tarrio released this short statement and said he’s giving a press conference in Miami at 530pm EST. Doesn’t really reflect the apologetic tone he struck in court today. pic.twitter.com/Efv4JmruPP
— Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) August 23, 2021
The judge later concluded that Tarrio’s apology wasn’t credible and rejected Tarrio’s claim that he didn’t know he was destroying church property, calling it a “bald, self-serving assertion.”
Excerpts from the stunning speech by Rev. Dr. Ianther Mills of Asbury United Methodist during Enrique Tarrio's sentencing hearing.
Notice how she sees and defines the Proud Boys as exactly what they are, despite having no expectation of understanding their world. Emphasis mine: pic.twitter.com/5fFN8wIOzK
— Andy Campbell (@AndyBCampbell) August 23, 2021
Tarrio is set to surrender to authorities to begin serving his sentence on September 6th.