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Proud Boys leader charged in burning of Black Lives Matter banner has failed to check in with court monitoring agency, officials contend

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 2/5/2021 Keith L. Alexander

D.C. Superior Court officials tasked with monitoring Proud Boys leader Henry “Enrique” Tarrio following his arrest last month in the city told a judge Thursday that Tarrio has failed to check in by phone as required.

In a report filed with the court, the city’s Pretrial Services Agency deemed Tarrio to be “noncompliant, ” saying it had tried unsuccessfully to reach him via telephone and by a letter that was sent to his Miami address.

In an interview Thursday, Tarrio said he had tried “repeatedly” to call the agency but did not have any success. “They don’t make it easy to reach them. I will call them right now,” he said.

Tarrio, 33, was arrested Jan. 4 and charged with destruction of property in connection with the burning of a Black Lives Matter banner outside a D.C. church in December. In addition to the misdemeanor, Tarrio also faces felony counts of possessing two extended, empty gun magazines, each capable of holding 30 rounds of .223-caliber, AR-15-compatible ammunition. Tarrio told authorities he planned on selling the magazines.

Tarrio is a key figure in the Proud Boys, a far-right group with a history of violence. The group has supported former president Donald Trump’s false claims that he won the November election and the banner was burned during a pro-Trump demonstration on Dec. 12.

Tarrio was released as he awaits trial, with a requirement that he abide by the monitoring agency’s conditions. He also was barred from returning to the nation’s capital for anything other than court business while his case is pending. His next hearing is scheduled for June 8.

[Proud Boys leader barred from District by judge following his arrest]

In its letter, the Pretrial Services Agency asked Judge Robert Okun to order Tarrio to comply with the monitoring requirements. As of Thursday evening, Okun had not yet addressed the request publicly.

Separately Thursday, Okun denied a request by Tarrio that he be allowed to travel to the District for matters not connected to the criminal case.

Tarrio said he found it “unconstitutional” to limit his travel to the District. He said he wanted to come to Washington to possibly meet with leaders of Asbury United Methodist Church, where the burned banner had been hanging before it was stolen. He also said he had planned to purchase property in Washington and offer it for short-term rentals.

He said he changed his mind after President Biden won the election.

In a 51-page filing, Tarrio’s lawyer, Lucas I. Dansie, said the ban was “especially harsh” because Tarrio “is an activist and needs to be in the District from time to time to organize and to protest.” Dansie also argued that “many American citizens are concerned about the policies of the Biden administration and thus have the right to redress by appearing at protests in the District.”

[Proud Boys leader vows to keep fighting after arrest]

In his opinion, Okun said he denied the request based on circumstances of Tarrio’s alleged crimes, his prior criminal convictions and his “implicit warnings” that he wrote on a social media website before his arrest.

Okun wrote that on Dec. 18, Tarrio, in statements on the social media site Parler, “admitted” to burning a Black Lives Matter church banner in the District and “indicated that he was proud of it.”

The judge then cited Tarrio’s Dec. 22 posting in which he allegedly wrote he would “DO IT AGAIN” followed by the phrase “Ayo....pass me the lighter.”

Okun cited a third posting in which he said Tarrio appeared to be setting a mask on fire, followed by the statement, “Burn what oppresses.”

The judge wrote that Tarrio’s postings “demonstrate the significant risk of reoffending” if he were allowed to return to the District.

The judge wrote he was concerned Tarrio had planned to sell the high-caliber gun magazines to someone in or near the District.

Okun also based his decision on the fact that Tarrio’s arrest last month was not his “first brush with the law.” Okun mentioned Tarrio’s 2013 conviction in a federal fraud case and a 2004 grand theft conviction in dealing in stolen property.

Dansie said he plans to appeal Okun’s decision.

On Wednesday, Canada declared the Proud Boys a terrorist entity, adding the far-right group to a list that includes al-Qaeda, ISIS and al-Shabab as part of an effort to crack down on what senior government officials called one of the country’s “most serious threats.”

[Canada declares Proud Boys a terrorist group]

Court records in the fraud case recently revealed Tarrio was once cooperating with FBI and local law enforcement in South Florida. In an online statement, Tarrio criticized the government and the news media for disclosing his past activities and argued that his cooperation was done with the full knowledge and participation of his co-defendants.

Read more: Activists remove and save art on fence near Black Lives Matter Plaza in D.C. Proud Boys may have planned Capitol breach to retaliate against police for member stabbed at earlier march, FBI alleges a group of people standing on top of a grass covered field: Proud Boys leader Henry “Enrique” Tarrio was arrested Jan. 4 and charged with destruction of property in connection with the burning of a Black Lives Matter banner outside a D.C. church in December. (Joshua Lott/The Washington Post) © Joshua Lott/The Washington Post Proud Boys leader Henry “Enrique” Tarrio was arrested Jan. 4 and charged with destruction of property in connection with the burning of a Black Lives Matter banner outside a D.C. church in December. (Joshua Lott/The Washington Post)
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