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Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio sentenced to five months in jail for burning a BLM banner

The sentence, which adds up to about five months, is more than the three months that prosecutors originally asked for.

Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio sentenced to five months in jail for burning a BLM banner
Cover Image Source: Enrique Tarrio, leader of the Proud Boys, stands outside of the Hyatt Regency where the Conservative Political Action Conference is being held on February 27, 2021, in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The leader of the far-right group Proud Boys was sentenced to 155 days in jail on Monday for burning a Black Lives Matter banner and possessing two high-capacity ammunition magazines during two separate trips to Washington, DC. The 37-year-old Henry "Enrique" Tarrio pleaded guilty to the charges last month and at the hearing this week, his attorney Lucas Dansie called him "a man of moral character who respects the laws." According to BuzzFeed News, Dansie added that his client "is extremely sorry for what he did. He made a poor decision and wasn't thinking clearly." However, his arguments failed to convince Judge Harold L. Cushenberry Jr.


The sentence, which adds up to about five months, is more than the three months that prosecutors originally asked for. Slamming Tario — who has led the Proud Boys since late 2018 — for what he characterized as a brazen disregard for the law and failure to express genuine remorse for his actions, Cushenberry ordered him to begin his sentence on September 6. Tario is also to pay fines totaling hundreds of dollars for destroying Asbury United Methodist Church's BLM banner and possession of the magazines. "Mr. Tarrio didn't care," Judge Cushenberry Jr. said, reports VICE. "That's what I think. He could not have cared less about the laws of the District of Columbia. He cared about himself and self-promotion."


Appearing in court via video, clean-shaven and wearing a grey T-shirt, Tarrio apologized for his actions on December 14, when hundreds of Proud Boys and Trump supporters flocked to the nation's capital to protest the results of the 2020 election. "My attorney said I wasn't thinking clearly and it goes beyond that," Tarrio said. "That day I made a grave mistake. A very bad mistake." He went on to claim that the historically Black church wasn't the only one that had felt the consequences. "I've suffered financially," he said. "My family's business has been hit pretty hard."


During Monday's hearing, a devastating testimony from Rev. Dr. Ianther Mills on behalf of Asbury United Methodist Church detailed the material and psychological impacts of Tarrio's actions. "This was deliberate and planned," Mills said. "Who carries a bottle of lighter fluid to a peaceful demonstration? In our opinion, this was an act of intimidation and racism." She explained that the Asbury Church, which provided a safe haven for escaped slaves who were attempting to make their way to free states or Canada via the Underground Railroad, has long been incredibly symbolic to the Black community.


Many in the church today are direct descendants of Black individuals who were forced to travel north to escape the terror and violence of groups like the Ku Klux Klan. Therefore, Mills added, when Tarrio and other Proud Boys defaced two Black churches, tore down Black Lives Matter signs, set them alight, and posted videos of the destruction online, it brought back traumatic memories for many. "Now imagine the images conjured up in the imaginations of Asbury congregants," Mills said. "Visions of slavery, Ku Klux Klan, lynchings, and their public spectacles."


Cushenberry sentenced Tarrio to a total of 150 days, with 25 days suspended, for possessing the large weapon gun magazine and another 90 days with 60 days suspended for the destruction of property. "Mr. Tarrio clearly and intentionally and proudly crossed the line of peaceful protest and assembly, to dangerous and potentially violent criminal conduct," the judge said. Cushenberry warned that the Proud Boys leader may have to serve the suspended portions of his sentence if he fails to self-surrender in two weeks.


In a statement following his sentence, Tarrio said: "Free speech is protected under the United States constitution. Sadly, with online censorship by Big Tech and in-person violent intimidation tactics from BLM and Antifa, many Americans have been robbed of their free speech rights. I will continue to do everything in my power to call out their hypocrisy and protect my fellow Americans from their depraved acts of violence."

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