Enrique Tarrio, the Florida-based national chairman of the Proud Boys, was arrested Monday in Washington, D.C., by Metropolitan Police on property-destruction charges related to his admitted participation in the December 12 vandalization of African American churches following a pro-Trump rally earlier in the day. Tarrio was taken into custody at National Airport as he arrived to participate in this week’s “March for Trump” rally.
Police also said they found Tarrio in possession of two high-capacity ammo magazines for a gun, and “charged him accordingly.” Tarrio is a convicted felon and thus forbidden to possess weapons or ammunition, and is likely to face felony weapons-possession charges as a result.
Tarrio’s arrest was first reported on Twitter by USA Today reporter Will Carless, who tweeted that he was on the phone with Tarrio when the arrest occurred. “While we were on the call, sirens started blaring in the background,” Carless tweeted. “They’re for me,” Tarrio joked at first, then told his driver to pull over.
"Here's something to write about," he then quipped, then ended the call.
According to the New York Times, police arrested Tarrio, 36, on suspicion of burning a Black Lives Matter banner amid the widespread violence of the December 12 pro-Trump protests. Police added that he has been found with two high-capacity firearm magazines.
Tarrio was convicted in 2013 of multiple felonies (two class C, one class D and one class E) for stealing and reselling $1.2 million worth of diabetes test strips from Abbott Labs. He served 16 months in federal prison and served two years on parole. As a felon, he is forbidden from possessing firearms or ammunition. D.C. also has strict laws forbidding possession of ammunition for any gun that is not registered in the district.
After the attacks on the African American churches and their Black Lives Matter signs, D.C. police announced the incident was being investigated as a hate crime. However, Tarrio went on the right-wing social-media platform Parler and denied that it was a hate crime—and moreover boasted that he was the person seen on video setting fire to Asbury United Methodist Church’s BLM banner.
"I was the person that went ahead and put the lighter to it and engulfed it in flames, and I am damn proud that I did," he wrote. He also claimed that the action was not motivated by racial bias, but rather as a protest against Black Lives Matter.
“The only hate I have in my heart is for communism and an authoritarian government,” he wrote. “BLM is a Marxist movement. It isn’t about the color of someone’s skin.”
Hours prior to that, Tarrio had been hosted at the White House for a private visit, though officials said he did not meet with Trump and that he had not been invited by the White House. Tarrio claimed on Parler he had received “a last-minute invite to an undisclosed location.” He went to the executive mansion with other members of Latinos for Trump, who had flown by private jet to D.C. for that day’s events.
As the Times noted, Tarrio’s arrest “also pits the Justice Department against some of Mr. Trump’s most ardent supporters; the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington acts as the main prosecutor’s office for the District of Columbia.”