(RNS) — Proud Boys national leader Henry “Enrique” Tarrio pleaded guilty to two charges on Monday (July 19), including the burning of a Black Lives Matter banner taken from Asbury United Methodist Church, a historic Black church in Washington, D.C.
Tarrio, 37, also pleaded guilty in the D.C. Superior Court to one count of attempted possession of a large-capacity ammunition feeding device. Both offenses carry a maximum sentence of a $1,000 fine and/or six months in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 23.
The banner burning occurred on Dec. 12, 2020, when thousands flocked to Washington, D.C., to protest the election of Joe Biden as president. Tarrio was among a group of Proud Boys who tore down Black Lives Matter signs belonging to a number of churches in Washington.
A viral video shows the Proud Boys, wearing their standard black and yellow colors, burning a Black Lives Matter banner with the Asbury United Methodist logo on it. Tarrio later admitted to burning the banner on social media.
“It pained me especially to see our name, Asbury, in flames,” said Asbury’s pastor, the Rev. Ianther M. Mills, in a statement released on Dec. 13. “For me it was reminiscent of cross burnings.”
Tarrio, from Miami, was arrested on Jan. 4, 2021, when he returned to D.C., two days before the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, he was carrying two high-capacity firearm magazines bearing the “Proud Boys” insignia. Tarrio later admitted he had intended to give the magazines to a customer who was also coming to Washington, D.C.
By the day after Tarrio’s arrest, more than $100,000 had been raised for his legal defense on the self-described Christian crowdfunding site GiveSendGo.
Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, another historic Black church in Washington, announced a lawsuit on Jan. 4 against the Proud Boys for destroying the church’s Black Lives Matter sign. In April, a Superior Court judge granted a default judgment that declared the Proud Boys had forfeited the case after failing to respond to the lawsuit.
The Proud Boys is a far-right group that’s been categorized as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Members were also present at the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.