Proud Boys Leader Sentenced to Five Months for Burning Black Lives Matter Banner Taken from Historic Black Church

The leader of the far-right Proud Boys was sentenced Monday to more than five months in jail after admitting that he burned a Black Lives Matter banner taken from a historic Black church in Washington during a pro-Trump demonstration in December.

Henry Tarrio, known to followers as Enrique, was arrested Jan. 4 in Washington on a warrant stemming from an incident on Dec. 12. The Proud Boys and other groups marched in a raucous rally through downtown. The banner was stolen from Asbury United Methodist Church, one of the oldest Black churches in Washington.

Tarrio, 37, of Miami, also pleaded guilty to attempting to possess a high-capacity gun magazine, which is illegal in Washington. Investigators said he had the magazines with him when he returned to the city for the Jan. 6 protests of the electoral vote count in Congress.

Both charges were misdemeanors, punishable by up to six months in jail.

Federal prosecutors recommended a sentence of 90 days in jail followed by three months of probation and an order forbidding him to return to Washington. They said his burning of the banner “had profound emotional and psychological effect upon the church and its members” and that he bragged openly about it, saying on social media, “I’m damn proud I did it!”

A senior pastor at the church, the Rev. Dr. Ianther Mills, spoke during the court hearing before the sentence was imposed. She called Tarrio’s conduct “an act of intimidation and racism” and he treated his action as “a trophy on social media.”

Tarrio told the judge Monday that he made “a grave mistake” by burning the banner. “I profoundly apologize. I didn’t see the consequences of what I did.”

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SOURCE: NBC News, Pete Williams