WASHINGTON - A Proud Boys leader who was taken into custody days before the Jan. 6 riot was sentenced to five months behind bars on Monday for burning a D.C. church’s Black Lives Matter banner, and also for weapons charge.
Henry "Enrique" Tarrio, 37, of Miami was among a group of Proud Boys who stole the banner from Asbury United Methodist Church – a historically Black church in a Northwest D.C. neighborhood – and then burned it a few blocks away on Dec. 12.
Tarrio reportedly posted an image of himself holding a lighter up to the banner on his Parler account, and later admitted that he set it on fire.
Police picked up Tarrio ahead of the Jan. 6 rally that precipitated the Capitol riot in D.C., arresting him for having two large-capacity ammunition feeding devices.
In July, Tarrio pleaded guilty to one count of destruction of property and one count of attempted possession of a large-capacity ammunition feeding device.
According to the Associated Press, Tarrio told the court he was "profusely" sorry for his actions, calling them a "grave mistake."
"What I did was wrong," Tarrio said during the hearing held via videoconference.
Rev. Dr. Ianther Mills, senior pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church, told the judge it was an "act of intimidation and racism" that caused "immeasurable and possibly irreparable harm" on the community.
"His careless act of violence and hatred, targeted at a congregation of individuals with a lived history of social and racial injustice, had the presumably desired effect," she said. "Asbury was forced to reckon with the very tangible evidence that we continue to live in a world where people radicalize hate based upon race and skin color."
A police spokesman told The Associated Press in December that investigators were probing the events as potential hate crimes, but no hate crime charges were filed against Tarrio.
Proud Boys members describe themselves as a politically incorrect men’s club for "Western chauvinists." Its members frequently have engaged in street fights with antifascist activists at rallies and protests.
Authorities have narrowed in on the Proud Boys and other extremist groups, like the Oath Keepers, in their investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol that sent lawmakers running and injured dozens of law enforcement officers.
Nearly 600 people have been charged in the Capitol insurrection, but some of the most serious charges — involving accusations of planning to block the certification of the vote — have been filed against members of the extremist groups.
About three dozen people charged have been identified by federal authorities as Proud Boys leaders, members or associates. In one case, four group leaders have been charged with conspiring to impede the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory. Tarrio hasn’t been charged in the Capitol attack.
It was revealed in court records recently that Tarrio had worked undercover and cooperated with investigators after he was accused of fraud in 2012. After Tarrio’s 2012 indictment for participating in a scheme involving the resale of diabetic test strips, he helped the government prosecute more than a dozen other people, the records show.
The Associated Press contributed to this report