WASHINGTON D.C. – Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, 37, of Miami, Fla., pleaded guilty today to charges in two cases, including one involving the burning of a Black Lives Matter banner stolen from a downtown Washington church, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips and Robert J. Contee III, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).
Tarrio pleaded guilty in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to one count of destruction of property and one count of attempted possession of a large-capacity ammunition feeding device. Each offense carries a maximum sentence of 180 days’ imprisonment and/or a $1,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 23, 2021, before the Honorable Harold L. Cushenberry, Jr. While pending sentencing, Tarrio must continue to abide by a court order to stay away from the District of Columbia.
According to a proffer of facts submitted at today’s hearing, on the evening of Dec. 12, 2020, a group of individuals affiliated with the “Proud Boys,” including Tarrio, were in the area of 11th and K Streets NW, near the location of Asbury United Methodist Church. Unidentified members of the group stole the banner from the church’s property. The banner had lettering that read “#BLACKLIVESMATTER.” The banner also contained the Church’s logo and website address.
The group then walked southbound on 11th Street NW and took the banner to the intersection of 11th and E Streets NW. At the intersection, the group burned the banner, using lighter fluid and lighters. Numerous unidentified individuals crouched down and applied lighters to the edges of the banner. Tarrio posted a picture to his “Parler” social media account depicting himself holding an unlit lighter, inches from the ignited lighters in two other individuals’ hands.
In the days that followed, Tarrio admitted to burning the banner on social media and in comments to numerous media outlets.
Tarrio returned to the District of Columbia from Florida on Jan. 4, 2021, and he was arrested on a warrant charging him with the Dec. 12, 2020, destruction of property offense. In a search of his book bag, conducted at the time of his arrest, police recovered two high-capacity firearm magazines. Each magazine bars the insignia of the “Proud Boys.” In an interview with police, Tarrio told detectives that he had intended to transfer the magazines to a customer who was also going to be present in the District of Columbia.
In announcing the plea, Acting U.S. Attorney Philips and Chief Contee commended the work of those who investigated the case from the Metropolitan Police Department, as well as those who are prosecuting the matter from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.