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Police arrest Proud Boys leader over BLM flag burning

January 5, 2021

The leader of the far-right group was charged with destruction of property for allegedly stealing and burning a BLM banner. The arrest comes days ahead of a pro-Trump rally.

 Enrique Tarrio, leader of the Proud Boys (L) and Joe Biggs (R) gather outside of Harry's bar during a protest on December 12, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was arrested days ahead of a pro-Trump rallyImage: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

The leader of the US far-right Proud Boys group was arrested Monday in Washington, police said in a statement.

Officers charged 36-year-old Enrique Tarrio with destruction of property at the Asbury United Methodist Church, a largely African-American church in Washington, DC.

Tarrio and others allegedly stole and burned a Black Lives Matter banner from the church during violent protests on December 12.

The group leader was hit with additional charges of possessing two illegal high-capacity firearm magazines at the time of his arrest, police said.

He was arrested when he entered the District of Columbia, which houses the US capital.

Who are the Proud Boys?

The all-male organization describes itself as a haven for "Western chauvinists."

It has touted anti-Muslim, anti-transgender, anti-immigration and anti-Semitic views, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

#BlackLivesMatter: A campaign goes viral

The group became a household name when President Donald Trump mentioned them during a pre-election debate with President-elect Joe Biden in November. At the time, Trump said: "Proud Boys – stand back and stand by."

Arrest days ahead of pro-Trump rally

The arrest comes as members of the Proud Boys are set to join other supporters of Trump on Wednesday for a mass rally.

The demonstration is timed to coincide with a Congress meeting that will certify the results of the US presidential election in November.

Demonstrators plan to show support for Trump's unfounded claim that he won the November 3 presidential election, rather than Joe Biden.

Washington police said Monday they were worried about potential violence, particularly from groups like the Proud Boys during the rally.

They warned that people carrying firearms would be arrested.

Members of the Proud Boys and other right-wing demonstrators march across the Hawthorne Bridge during an "End Domestic Terrorism" rally in Portland
The Proud Boys describes itself as a haven for 'Western chauvinists'Image: Noah Berger/AP/picture-alliance

kmm/shs (AFP, dpa)