Proud Boys leader arrested in Washington DC ahead of election protests

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The leader of the far-right nationalist group the Proud Boys was arrested in Washington DC ahead of protests in the nation’s capital to support Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the results of the presidential election.

Enrique Tarrio was arrested on Monday on destruction of property charges after he admitted to destroying a Black Lives Matter banner on a historic African-American church during last month’s violent demonstrations.

He also was in possession of two high capacity firearm magazines at the time of his arrest, according to a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police Department. He was subsequently charged with possession of a high capacity feeding device, which can carry a three-year prison sentence, if convicted.

At least four churches were vandalised during riots on 12 December. Rioters destroyed two Black Lives Matter banners at Metropolitan AME and Asbury United Methodist Church, both historic African-American churches.

Tarrio admitted in comments on the right-wing social media app Parler and on a Proud Boys-affiliated podcast that he was responsible for burning a church’s sign.

"In the burning of the BLM sign, I was the one that lit it on fire," he said on the War Boys podcast last month. "I was the person that went ahead and put the lighter to it and engulfed it in flames, and I am damn proud that I did."

On Monday, Tarrio as well as Proud Boys LLC and eight others who participated in burning church banners were targeted in a lawsuit from Metropolitan AME with the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

The lawsuit filed on Monday includes several pages of social media messages coordinating plans for demonstrations and violence on 12 December, including calls to stock up on guns and ammunition and “keep our enemies awake.”

“In countless messages transmitted over social media platforms and messaging services, Defendants and their co-conspirators promised that there would be violence in their wake, and, as the events [of 12 December] demonstrate, they made good on their promises,” according to the lawsuit.

The church and plaintiffs seek “compensatory, punitive, and injunctive relief, and aims, with this action, to ensure that nothing like this will happen again at the hands of Defendants, their affiliates, agents and co-conspirators – not to Metropolitan AME, and not to the thousands of other people and organizations that find themselves targeted for violence by the Proud Boys.”

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