Washington police on Monday arrested the head of the Proud Boys on suspicion of burning a “Black Lives Matter” banner that was torn down from Asbury United Methodist Church in the nation’s capital last month.
Enrique Tarrio, 36, of Miami, Florida, was charged with destruction of property related to an incident that took place on Dec. 12 in the 900 block of 11th Street, Northwest.
He was arrested by Metropolitan Police Department after arriving in Washington ahead of the Jan. 6 planned protests organized by a number of groups, as members of Congress are expected to convene in a joint session to count electoral votes.
Tarrio was found in possession of two high-capacity firearm magazines at the time of his arrest, and is also facing weapons charges, a police spokesman told news outlets.
Last month’s pro-Trump rally saw individuals tear down a Black Lives Matter banner and sign from two historically black churches in downtown Washington and set the banner ablaze. Tarrio told The Washington Post he had participated in the incident and said he would plead guilty to destruction of property and reimburse the cost of the banner to the church.
The Proud Boy’s core values, according to the group’s website, include supporting free speech and gun rights, being against the war on drugs and racism, supporting minimal government, and strong borders. The group was founded by libertarian and Vice media co-founder Gavin McInnes, who has since left Vice and Proud Boys.
Authorities in Washington have warned against bringing guns to this week’s planned protests, saying that individuals who provoke violence would be arrested.
“We have received some information that there are individuals intent on bringing firearms into our city and that just will not be tolerated,” Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee said during a press briefing.
The D.C. National Guard said Monday that an additional 300 troops will be assisting in keeping order alongside the U.S. Capitol Police, U.S. Park Police, and U.S. Secret Service.
The District has some of the strictest gun laws in the United States. Individuals are prohibited from openly carrying weapons or possessing handguns without a local license.
Trump on Dec. 27 urged supporters to join protests to call for investigations into allegations of election fraud, saying “See you in Washington, DC, on January 6th. Don’t miss it,” in a Twitter post.
Ivan Pentchoukov and The Associated Press contributed to this report.