Proud Boys leader Henry “Enrique” Tarrio was sentenced to five months in jail Monday after pleading guilty to charges of property destruction in December 2020 and bringing high-capacity magazines into the District of Columbia two days before the deadly riot at the US Capitol. Tarrio “cared about himself and self-promotion, not the District of Columbia’s laws,” Judge Harold L. Cushenberry, Jr. of DC Superior Court said at the hearing. Cushenberry cited Tarrio’s social media posts as evidence that the Proud Boy honcho was not remorseful about his actions.
The US government had asked for a three month sentence. Cushenberry agreed that Tarrio, 37, had pleaded guilty but said, “the balance tips strongly in favor of a longer period of incarceration than that requested by the United States.”
Prior to sentencing, the Rev. Dr. Ianther Mills of Asbury United Methodist Church spoke to the court. Tarrio had pleaded guilty to burning a Black Lives Matter sign that Proud Boys had ripped from the church but claimed he didn’t know it was from church. Asbury has been involved in social-justice campaigns for its entire 185-year history, Mills said, and decided to display that banner after 12-year-old Tamir Rice was killed by police in Cleveland in 2014. Tarrio’s actions had physical, financial, and psychological effects on the church. Physically, she said, the effects were minimal. The financial dimensions included the cost of the banner ($347) and the security measures the church had to take afterward, which she said were over $5,000. Psychologically, she said, Tarrio and the Proud Boys conjured among congregants “visions of slavery. The Ku Klux Klan. Lynchings.”
Their actions, she averred, were “deliberate and planned. Who carries a bottle of lighter fluid to a peaceful demonstration?”
Tarrio’s lawyer, Lucas Dansie, spoke next, saying his client was sorry, “made a poor decision,” and “wasn’t thinking clearly.” He suggested that a reasonable sentence would be for Tarrio to do community service at a church in Miami, where he lives. Tarrio spoke next, offering profuse apologies to Mills: “That day I made a grave mistake, a very, very bad mistake,” he said. “I heard the grief in her voice.” He apologized for bringing high capacity magazines to DC, apologized to the prosecutor, and said he hoped Mills would accept his apology.
Cushenberry said Tarrio’s claims of being unaware of the law were not credible. He declined to make Tarrio pay for the church’s security, however, saying the government hadn’t provided enough documentation and noting that the church could pursue its costs as a civil matter. Tarrio agreed to report to jail in DC on September 6.