Enrique Tarrio and the Proud Boys demonstrate near Freedom Plaza during the Million Maga March protest regarding election results on November 14, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Chris Tuite/imageSPACE/MediaPunch /IPX)
Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.The leader of the Proud Boys was arrested Monday evening in Washington, D.C.—just days before he and thousands of other Trump supporters are expected to attend a rally in the nation’s capital in an effort to disrupt Congress’ certification of the 2020 election results.
Enrique Tarrio, who holds the title “chairman” of the far-right street-fighting gang, was apprehended by police on his way into D.C., the New York Times confirmed. He was charged with a misdemeanor for his alleged role in burning a D.C. church’s Black Lives matter sign as well as possession of two high-capacity firearm magazines, which police found during the arrest, according to the Times. In 2013, Tarrio served 16 months of a 30-month sentence in federal prison for participating in a scheme to sell stolen medical equipment.News of Tarrio’s possible arrest broke earlier, when USA Today reporter Will Carless tweeted that he was interviewing the Miami-based Proud Boy leader when sirens started blaring in the background.
The Proud Boys were at the center of two recent pro-Trump protests in D.C. that turned violent after dark and resulted in multiple stabbings. In December, Tarrio took to Parler, a social media popular with right-wingers, and claimed responsibility for tearing down Black Lives Matter signs outside a Black church. Tarrio posted a photo of himself and others burning the signs with lighters but denied that it was a hate crime, contrary to the characterization by D.C. officials.
Tarrio and his cohorts vowed a record Proud Boy turnout on Wednesday—but with a twist: Instead of showing up in their uniform of black-and-gold Fred Perry polo shirts, they promised to go “incognito” by wearing all black to blend in with antifascist counterprotesters. With concerns growing about potential violence on Wednesday, the Pentagon agreed to deploy the National Guard to D.C., at Mayor Muriel Bowser’s request. On Monday, signs appeared across the city reminding visitors that anyone who carries a gun at a protest or within 1,000 feet of a protest will face charges in accordance with D.C. law. The Metropolitan Police Department did not return VICE News’ request for comment.DISCLOSURE: Gavin McInnes was a co-founder of VICE. He left the company in 2008 and has had no involvement since then. He later founded the Proud Boys in 2016.