Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown DC filed suit against the Proud Boys organization and Proud Boys Chairman Enrique Tarrio Monday, saying group members’ destruction of Black Lives Matter signs in DC during a December rally for Trump fans were acts of terror. Proud Boys’ conduct in DC, when members of the group roamed downtown looking for people to fight, amounts to “a new and dangerous chapter in the long and terrible history of white supremacist mob violence targeting Black houses of worship,” the lawsuit says.
The church is a historic Black institution in DC that has counted Frederick Douglass among its congregants. A 2005 memorial service for Rosa Parks drew celebrities including Oprah Winfrey and Cicely Tyson; President Obama worshipped there in 2013 before his second inauguration.
The lawsuit, which you can read below, quotes Proud Boys posts on social media before and after the event in an attempt to show that the destruction “was no accident.” Tarrio has acknowledged he was responsible for burning a sign at downtown’s Asbury United Methodist Church. Police said four churches were attacked. A police bulletin sent on December 14 includes images of men in the Proud Boys’ trademark black-and-yellow clothing (one of whom wears a sweatshirt with a Proud Boys logo) destroying a sign at Metropolitan AME.
DC police are investigating the assaults on churches as hate crimes.
The suit was filed on behalf of Metropolitan AME by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, and the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. It asks for compensation, punitive damages, and injunctive relief from the Texas-based Proud Boys and from Tarrio, who has a Miami address.