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‘I Didn’t See the Consequences of What I Did’: Proud Boys Leader Offers Apology as He’s Sentenced for Destroying BLM Banner

Proud Boys leader Henry “Enrique” Tarrio will spend a little over five months in jail after he admitted to burning a Black Lives Matter banner taken from a historic Black church in Washington, D.C. The man also confessed to bringing high-capacity rifle magazines to the city just days before the U.S. Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6.  

Judge Harold L. Cushenberry Jr. of D.C. Superior Court handed down the sentencing on Monday, Aug. 23. He noted that although Tarrio was not in Washington on the day of the insurrection, his actions beforehand threatened American democracy. 

Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, leader of The Proud Boys, holds an US flags during a protest showing support for Cubans demonstrating against their government, in Miami, Florida on July 16, 2021. (Photo by Eva Marie UZCATEGUI / AFP) (Photo by EVA MARIE UZCATEGUI/AFP via Getty Images)

“This court must respect the right of any citizen to peacefully assemble, protest, and make his or her views known on issues,” Cushenberry said in a statement obtained by CNN. “But Mr. Tarrio’s conduct in these criminal cases vindicate none of these democratic values. Instead, Mr. Tarrio’s actions betrayed them.”

The Miami native, who is Afro-Cuban, was arrested earlier this year in Washington on a warrant stemming from an incident on Dec. 12 in which the Proud Boys and other right-wing groups trooped through the downtown area. The banner the 37-year-old pleaded guilty to vandalizing was stolen from Asbury United Methodist Church, one of the older Black churches in Washington. 

Tarrio apologized for his actions during sentencing, telling the judge and the church’s pastor that he made “a grave mistake” by burning the banner and later bragging about it to the press and on social media. He added, “I’d like to profusely apologize for my actions… what I did was wrong.”

However, he later posed as a victim, explaining that he “suffered financially, socially, for what I’ve done.” He added, “My family’s business has been hit pretty hard. So, what I did doesn’t only affect the church. It affects a lot more people, including my family.”

The judge ultimately decided that Tarrio’s apology was insincere and rejected the far-right leader’s claim that he wasn’t aware he was damaging church property. “He could not have cared less about the laws of the District of Columbia,” the judge added. “He cared about himself and self-promotion … His claim of ‘innocent mistake’ is not credible at all.”

Both of Tarrio’s charges were misdemeanors, punishable by up to six months in jail. The judge sentenced him to 90 days for the destruction of the banner and 150 for attempted possession of a large-capacity ammunition feeding device but suspended all but 155 days of the sentence on the condition that Tarrio serves three years’ probation. He will also be required to pay $1,000 in fines and $347 to the church. 

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