Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the far-right extremist group Proud Boys, pleaded guilty in the DC Superior Court Monday that he burned a Black Lives Matter banner that was removed from a downtown DC church last December.
The banner had been on display outside Asbury United Methodist Church, a historical Black church in Northwest DC.
Several members of the group, including Tarrio, were near the church when the banner was stolen and burned during a pro-Trump demonstration on December 12, 2020, federal prosecutors claimed in a lawsuit.
According to the US Department of Justice, Tarrio admitted that he had burned the banner on his social media accounts, as well as in his statements to a number of media outlets, in the wake of the incident.
Tarrio told The Washington Post in an interview last year that he was responsible for the burning of the banner. However, he asserted that his actions were not racially motivated.
“We didn’t Google the church and go, ‘Oh, it’s a Black church, let’s target it.’ The sign was taken down because of what it represents. If they want to get me for destruction of property, I won’t even give them a fight. I’ll tell them guilty,” he said.
The 37-year-old Miami man also pleaded guilty to attempting to obtain a high-capacity ammunition magazine, along with destruction of property.
Both offenses carry a maximum sentence of six months in prison and up to a $1,000 fine.
In early January, Tarrio was arrested in the District on charges of destruction of property due to the high-capacity ammunition magazines found on him. He was released in January, but the judge banned his re-entry into DC except for attending hearings of his trial.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) designated the Proud Boys as a hate group. They are known for their white nationalist, anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric.