- A member of the hate group Proud Boys openly came forward and said he is to blame for setting a Black Lives Matter banner on fire during a pro-Trump rally on December 12, the Washington Post reported.
- “I was the person that went ahead and put the lighter to it and engulfed it in flames, and I am damn proud that I did,” Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio said.
- In a post on Parler, a conservative social media site, Tarrio also said “he did it out of love.”
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A high-ranking member of the Proud Boys took credit for lighting a Black Lives Matter sign of one of the historic Black churches vandalised during the night of a pro-Trump rally in Washington, DC last weekend.
Enrique Tarrio, chairman of the far-right hate group, said he was involved in burning a Black Lives Matter banner from Asbury United Methodist Church, one of the churches vandalised following a march in support of President Donald Trump on December 12, according to the Washington Post.
The incident was captured on video, which showed Proud Boys members chanting and shouting “f–k antifa” while burning the stolen sign. A Black Lives Matter banner was also torn up at Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, another historic church, by the Proud Boys that same night.
On Monday, DC authorities along with the FBI Washington Field Office announced that they are offering a reward for the suspects in connection to burning the banners for “destruction of property,” WAMU reported. Police also told NBC4 Washington earlier this week the incident is being investigated “as potential hate crimes.”
“I’m here to tell you that there was no hate crime committed,” Tarrio wrote in a post to Parler, a social-media app touted by Republican politicians and right-wing pundits. “Against the wishes of my attorney I am here today to admit that I am the person responsible for the burning of this sign. And I am not ashamed of what I did because I didn’t do it out of hate…I did it out of love.”
“Come get me if you feel like what I did was wrong,” Tarrio added.
On the Proud Boys’ podcast, Tarrio said he was” damn proud” that he “went ahead and put the lighter” to the church’s BLM sign and “engulfed it in flames,” the DCist/WAMU reported.
Reverand Ianther Mills of Asbury United likened the vandalism of their Black Lives Matter sign to “cross burnings,” a hate symbol most widely associated with the Ku Klux Klan.
“It pained me especially to see our name, Asbury, in flames. For me it was reminiscent of cross burnings,” Mills wrote. “Seeing this act on video made me both indignant and determined to fight the evil that has reared its ugly head. We had been so confident that no one would ever vandalise the church, but it has happened.”
“These racist attacks â€” attacks on the very idea that Black Lives Matter â€” at historic churches were meant to send a message to black people and all of us who call the District of Columbia our home. We must send one back: that racially motivated crimes in the District of Columbia will be met with full force of the law,” DC Attorney General Karl Racine wrote to DC U.S. attorney Michael Sherwin calling to prosecute the incident as a hate crime, according to WAMU.