The leader of the far-right group the Proud Boys was released from police custody Tuesday but was ordered to leave Washington, D.C., and stay away.
Henry “Enrique” Tarrio was arrested Monday, two days before supporters of President Donald Trump are scheduled to hold demonstrations in the capital city over Trump’s loss to President-elect Joe Biden in the November presidential election.
The District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department said it arrested Tarrio on destruction of property charges for burning a Black Lives Matter sign that was torn down from a historic African American church during protests in Washington last month.
D.C. Superior Court Magistrate Judge Renee Raymond released Tarrio on his own recognizance Tuesday but ordered him to stay outside the nation’s capital until his next hearing in June.
The Proud Boys are expected to converge on the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, as Congress votes to affirm Biden’s victory, one of several pro-Trump rallies planned in the city.
Tarrio, 36, is also facing weapons charges after police found two high-capacity firearm magazines when he was taken into custody.
City officials warned Trump supporters not to bring guns to the protests. The local government in Washington prohibits people from carrying weapons in the open and possessing a handgun without a local license.
The District of Columbia National Guard said 300 troops would support the city government during Wednesday’s planned protests.
Protest at Senator Hawley's House
Ahead of the rallies, Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) said that his family was targeted by “Antifa scumbags” who frightened his family at their Washington, D.C., home Monday night. Hawley has said he would challenge the certification of the Electoral College vote that gave Biden his victory. The group involved in the protest outside his home, ShutDown DC, said activists held a “vigil” and delivered a copy of the U.S. Constitution to his door.
In December, violence erupted at a pro-Trump rally in December as Trump supporters, some wearing the Proud Boys colors of black and yellow, instigated confrontations with counter-protesters and activists.
As Trump supporters tried to enter Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House, counter-protesters tried to block them. By nightfall, pro-Trump demonstrators ripped down a Black Lives Matter banner and sign from two historic Black churches in downtown Washington and set the banner on fire.
Tarrio acknowledged to The Washington Post newspaper that he helped with the burning of the banner and said he would plead guilty to destruction of property charges and pay the church for the banner.
Police were investigating the events last month as potential hate crimes, a spokesman told The Associated Press. Tarrio has not commented on the charges, but he said recently on the social media app Parler that “record numbers” of the group’s members would protest Trump’s loss beginning Wednesday.
Last week, Trump tweeted, “The BIG Protest Rally in Washington, D.C., will take place at 11.00 A.M. on January 6th…. StopTheSteal!”