The leader of the far-right Proud Boys has been arrested after it was claimed he burned a Black Lives Matter banner that was torn down from a historic Black church in downtown Washington last month.
Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, 36, was arrested after he arrived in the US capital ahead of protests planned by supporters of president Donald Trump to coincide with the congressional vote expected on Wednesday to affirm Joe Biden’s election victory.
Tarrio was taken into custody after a warrant was issued for his arrest for destruction of property, police said.
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He is also facing weapons charges after officers found him with two high-capacity firearm magazines when he was arrested.
A pro-Trump rally in December ended in violence as hundreds of Trump supporters, some wearing the signature black and yellow of the Proud Boys, clashed with counter protesters attempting to bar them from Black Lives Matter Plaza.
Later in the evening, vandals tore down a Black Lives Matter banner and sign from two historic Black churches in downtown Washington and set the banner alight.
Video posted online showed people pouring an accelerant on a banner near the Asbury United Methodist Church and setting it alight.
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Tarrio told The Washington Post he joined in with the burning of the Black Lives Matter banner and said he would plead guilty to destruction of property and pay the church the cost.
“We just want to see justice be done,” the Reverend Dr Ianther Mills, senior pastor at Asbury, said in an interview on Monday.