Enrique Tarrio, the recognized leader of the far-right group Proud Boys, was sentenced this Monday to more than 5 months in jail for burning a church’s Black Lives Matter banner back in December, as well as bringing high-capacity rifle magazines to D.C. days before the Capitol riot, CNN reports.
“This court must respect the right of any citizen to peacefully assemble, protest, and make his or her views known on issues,” said Judge Harold L. Cushenberry Jr. of DC Superior Court. “But Mr. Tarrio’s conduct in these criminal cases vindicate none of these democratic values. Instead, Mr. Tarrio’s actions betrayed them.”
The flag-burning incident occurred at the Asbury United Methodist Church, a historically Black church, on December 12, 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, shortly before the Capitol insurrection, and was found with two high-capacity magazines that are banned under DC’s strict gun control laws.
The pastor of the church, the Rev. Dr. Ianther M. Mills, also spoke during Tarrio’s sentencing about the long-term impact of his actions, saying Tarrio led a “marauding band of angry white men… apparently looking for trouble” through the streets of D.C., adding, “in our opinion, this was an act of intimidation and racism.”
Tarrio apologized directly to the church’s pastor and said he “made a grave mistake.”
“I’d like to profusely apologize for my actions… what I did was wrong,” Tarrio said.
“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,” he added.
But the judge didn’t buy Tarrio’s explanation, saying it was a “bald, self-serving assertion.”
“He could not have cared less about the laws of the District of Columbia,” the judge said. “He cared about himself and self-promotion … His claim of ‘innocent mistake’ is not credible at all.”
Tarrio told CNN he would turn himself in on September 6.