Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was sentenced to more than five months in jail for burning a Black Lives Matter banner stolen from a historic black church in Washington, where he was arrested with high-capacity firearm magazines before January’s Capitol riot.
Tarrio, 37, of Miami, was sentenced Monday after pleading guilty in July to torching the BLM banner stolen by unidentified members of the far-right extremist group from the Asbury United Methodist Church on Dec. 12.
The group burned the banner after dousing it in lighter fluid and Tarrio posted a photo to his Parler social media account showing himself holding an unlit lighter inches away from ignited lighters in two other people’s hands, Department of Justice officials said.
Tarrio admitted to the destruction of property charge in a December interview with the Washington Post, saying, “Let me make this simple. I did it.”
Tarrio was also charged with bringing two high-capacity firearm magazines into Washington just two days before the Jan. 6 riot. Authorities found the magazines — which had the Proud Boys insignia on them — when he was arrested in DC on the destruction of property charge.
“In an interview with police, Tarrio told detectives he intended to transfer the magazines to a customer who was also going to be present in the District of Columbia,” federal prosecutors said in a statement.
A judge sentenced Tarrio to 90 days in jail on the destruction of property charge and 150 days for the ammunition offense, but suspended all but 155 days on the condition that he successfully complete three years of probation. He was also ordered to pay $1,000 in fines and $347 in restitution to the church.
Tarrio has led the Proud Boys since 2018, CNN reported. He apologized directly to the church’s pastor Monday, saying he made a “grave mistake” by burning it and later boasting about it in news reports and social media.
The church’s senior pastor, the Rev. Dr. Ianther Mills, said Tarrio was leading a “marauding band of angry white men” when the banner was stolen and burned — a clear act of “intimidation and racism.”
But Tarrio said his actions have caused him to suffer both financially and socially.
“My family’s business has been hit pretty hard,” Tarrio told the judge, CNN reported. “So, what I did doesn’t only affect the church. It affects a lot more people, including my family.”
Judge Harold Cushenberry Jr., meanwhile, dismissed Tarrio’s claim that he was unaware he was destroying church property as a “bald, self-serving assertion,” according to CNN.
“He cared about himself and self-promotion,” the judge continued. “His claim of ‘innocent mistake’ is not credible at all.”
Tarrio, who is expected to start serving his sentence on Sept. 6, criticized Cushenberry after Monday’s proceeding, alleging the judge “already had his mind made up” prior to sentencing.
“If I would have known it would have happened like this, I would have gone to trial,” Tarrio told CNN. “I learned from this experience. If anyone thinks putting me in chains, silencing me, dehumanizing me will keep me quiet, they are wrong.”
Tarrio vowed to “use his voice” even more in coming days.
“Even the people who disagree with me, like Black Lives Matter, see the injustice in the justice system and I hope they keep up the fight because I sure as hell will,” Tarrio said.