Proud Boys leader is sentenced to five months in jail for burning church's BLM flag

Enrique Tarrio's sentence begins on Sept. 6.

Updated: August 23, 2021 - 9:28pm

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Proud Boys leader Henry "Enrique" Tarrio was sentenced to more than five months in jail on Monday after pleading guilty to destruction of property, specifically, burning a church's "Black Lives Matter" flag.

Tarrio pleaded guilty to the charge in July, after his arrest on Jan. 4 for the flag burning incident that occurred on Dec. 12.

During a December rally in Washington, D.C., Proud Boys members allegedly stole and set fire to a "#BLACKLIVESMATTER" flag from Asbury United Methodist Church, one of the oldest black churches in the city, the Associated Press reported. On his Parler account, Tarrio posted a picture of himself holding a lighter, later telling The Washington Post in an interview that he participated in burning the flag.

On Monday, Tarrio told the judge that burning the banner was "a grave mistake," adding, "What I did was wrong," according to the wire service.

"I profoundly apologize," Tarrio said, NBC News reported. "I didn't see the consequences of what I did."

Senior pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church, Rev. Dr. Ianther Mills, told the judge during the court hearing before the sentence was decided that what Tarrio did was an "act of intimidation and racism" that resulted in "immeasurable and possibly irreparable harm" on the church community, the AP reported.

"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," Mills 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."

Tarrio was sentenced to 155 days in prison, after Superior Court Judge Harold Cushenberg said he "did not credibly express genuine remorse," according to NBC News. The judge said Tarrio should have received more prison time than the three months that the prosecutors asked for, and criticized him for saying he was unaware the flag came from the church, despite video showing him standing near the building during the theft of the flag.

"Mr. Tarrio has clearly — intentionally and proudly — crossed the line from peaceful protest and assembly to dangerous and potentially violent criminal conduct," Cushenberg said, according to the AP.

Tarrio was ordered to turn himself in to the Washington, D.C. jail on Sept. 6, NBC News reported.

When Tarrio was arrested on Jan. 4, just two days before the Capitol riot, he was carrying two unloaded magazines in his bag with the Proud Boys logo on them. He said he sells them and that the ones he carried were purchased by a customer, the AP reported. Last month, when he pled guilty to the destruction of property charge, he also pled guilty to attempted possession of a large-capacity ammunition feeding device.