A judge on Friday awarded Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, a black church in the District of Columbia, over $1 million in damages in a lawsuit against the Proud Boys.
The lawsuit was filed in response to the Proud Boys’ destruction of a Black Lives Matter banner during a protest in 2020.
Superior Court Associate Judge Neal Kravitz additionally imposed a five-year ban on the Proud Boys and its leaders from coming near the church or engaging in threats or defamatory remarks against the church or its pastor.
The judgment was issued as a default ruling due to the defendants’ failure to appear in court.
The destruction of two Black Lives Matter banners from Metropolitan AME and another historically black church occurred during clashes between supporters of former President Donald Trump and counterdemonstrators in December 2020.
The clashes took place after weekend rallies by thousands of people in support of Trump’s claims that the 2020 elections were stolen.
Metropolitan AME’s lawsuit accused the Proud Boys and their leaders of trespassing and violating Washington and federal law through a bias-related conspiracy to destroy religious property.
Proud Boys leader Henry (Enrique) Tarrio was arrested on Jan. 4, 2021, by the Metropolitan Police Department ahead of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol protests after he arrived in the city.
He had initially pleaded not guilty to the felony charge of attempted possession of a large-capacity magazine and misdemeanor charge of destruction of property in January 2021 before accepting a plea deal and pleading guilty to the charges in July.
Tarrio, who is from Miami, Florida, was sentenced for his actions on Aug. 23, 2021. He received a 30-day sentence for the first charge related to setting fire to a large “Black Lives Matter” banner that was torn down from the lawn of Asbury United Methodist Church in Washington, on Dec. 12, 2020.
He received a separate 125-day sentence for the second charge related to having been found with the firearm magazine upon his arrest.
According to an NBC4 reporter, Tarrio admitted in court that he had brought the firearm magazines to Washington to sell them to a customer who had purchased them from him. He acknowledged that his actions were wrong and referred to them as a “grave mistake,” reported The Associated Press.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Tarrio confirmed his participation in the banner incident and expressed his intention to reimburse the church for the cost of the banner.
After his sentencing, Tarrio released a statement on Telegram, saying, “Take it to the chin.” He later added that he believes Americans have been “robbed of their free speech rights” due to censorship by Big Tech and intimidation by the Black Lives Matter movement and Antifa. He vowed to continue to do “everything in my power to call out their hypocrisy” and protect Americans “from their depraved acts of violence.”
In a further statement, Tarrio said, “Nothing worthwhile is gained without sacrifice. My time is short. But this is a window into the future. They want you demoralized, bankrupt, and dead.” He emphasized that his own experiences pale in comparison to what he the Proud Boys have endured.
The Proud Boys originally formed in 2016 with aspirations to defend “Western civilization,” according to the group’s website, which was later taken down. The group has been associated with protesting against political correctness and constraints on masculinity.
Described by mainstream media outlets as far-right, the Proud Boys describe their values as supporting free speech, gun rights, opposition to the war on drugs and racism, as well as support for minimal government and strong borders. The group’s founder, Gavin McInnes, previously associated with Vice media, has since disassociated himself from both Vice and the Proud Boys.
Mimi Nguyen-Ly and The Associate Press contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times