This Black Church Is Demanding $22 Million From the Proud Boys

The church already won a default victory in its lawsuit. Now it wants millions.
Pro-Trump protesters and Proud Boys gathered during the "Million MAGA March" from Freedom Plaza to the US Capitol in Washington, DC, United States on December 12, 2020.
Pro-Trump protesters and Proud Boys gathered during the "Million MAGA March" from Freedom Plaza to the US Capitol in Washington, DC, United States on December 12, 2020.  (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

A historically Black church is seeking a massive $22 million punitive judgment against the far-right, street-brawling Proud Boys for destroying the church’s Black Lives Matter sign in 2020. 

Washington D.C.’s Metropolitan AME church argues the multi-million-dollar figure, unveiled Wednesday as part of a long-running civil lawsuit, is justified as punishment for what the church’s legal team called a flagrant act of racially-charged intimidation, and to deter the Proud Boys from similar actions in the future. 


The church already won a default victory against most of the defendants in this case, including against a Texas-based organization called Proud Boys International LLC, longtime Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio, and a handful of other members. Now, it’s trying to convince the judge to order the group to fork over tens of millions following that win.

“The Proud Boys must be held accountable for what they’ve done,” Reverend William H. Lamar told Judge Neal Kravitz  during a hearing on Wednesday. “This was vandalism. This was trespassing. This was desecration of a holy space.”

The church will likely have a difficult time collecting such a large sum from the Proud Boys, no matter what the judge ultimately decides. The group’s finances and exact organizational structure remain murky and subject to dispute. And some of its top members, including Tarrio, are currently in the middle of a criminal trial for their role in the Jan. 6 uprising at the U.S. Capitol building. 

Tarrio told a judge in March 2022 that he had no savings and no car, and had only recently gotten a job printing T-shirts. Tarrio was denied bond at that hearing, and has been incarcerated pending his criminal trial ever since. 

The Texas organization targeted by the church, Proud Boys International LLC, filed to dissolve itself after the initial lawsuit. But the church’s legal team on Wednesday argued that an application for dissolution should not be effective when it comes to lawsuits that were filed while the LLC existed under the law in Texas. No lawyers for the LLC, Tarrio, or other defendants attended Wednesday’s hearing. 


Tarrio reacted with profane bravado when he was asked by a VICE News reporter in 2021 about whether he was concerned that the Metropolitan AME church might be able to take the group’s money. 

"The Proud Boys is not a legal entity, so I don't know what money they'd go after,” Tarrio said at the time. “If they try to go after mine, I'd be happy to drag my balls across their face in court.”

The church’s lawsuit concerns events that took place about a month before the Capitol riot of January 6, when the Proud Boys took to D.C. in droves as part of the so-called Million MAGA March, on Dec. 12. 

Police say four churches were vandalized that day, and that four people were stabbed and 33 arrested in clashes between pro-Trump groups and counter-protesters in downtown Washington. 

A video from that weekend shows a group of Proud Boys chanting “Whose streets? Our streets!” and “Fuck antifa!” as they tear down a Black Lives Matter sign from outside the Metropolitan AME Church. Another video shows Proud Boys gathered around another Black Lives Matter sign stolen from a different church, pouring gasoline on it, and setting it on fire. 

With files from Tess Owen

(Disclosure: Gavin McInnes, who founded the Proud Boys in 2016, was a co-founder of VICE in 1994. He left the company in 2008 and has had no involvement since then.)