Ahead of a planned demonstration by supporters of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, the leader of the radical right-wing group Proud Boys has been arrested in Washington. Police in the U.S. capital said Henry “Enrique” Tarrio was the subject of an arrest warrant on charges of damaging property on the sidelines of a pro-Trump demonstration in Washington last month. The 36-year-old was also reported to be carrying two firearm magazines, which is illegal in Washington.
The Washington Post reported the property damage charge related to the burning of a “Black Lives Matter” banner taken from a church. Tarrio told the newspaper at the time that he was among those who burned the banner.
Police said Tarrio – who lives in Miami – was arrested Monday (local time) as he arrived in the capital, where Trump supporters have called for another demonstration Wednesday. Trump shared on Twitter on Monday a call to attend the protest near the White House. That same day, Congress is scheduled to certify the results of the Nov. 3 presidential election, which Democrat Joe Biden won.
Republican Trump and many of his supporters do not recognize Biden’s election victory. They claim massive voter fraud occurred, for which there is no evidence. Thousands of Trump’s supporters had already gathered in Washington at two demonstrations in December and November, including many Proud Boys supporters. There were sporadic clashes on the sidelines of the protests.
Mayor advises against confrontations at protest
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser urged capital city residents Monday to avoid confrontations with protesters ready to use violence. She advised staying away from the area of the protests next Wednesday.
Trump had sparked enthusiasm on the right-wing spectrum during the election campaign with statements about the Proud Boys. In a TV debate with Biden, he had refused to unequivocally condemn radical right-wing groups. “Who do you want me to condemn?” the president asked at the time. Biden then interjected with the name Proud Boys. Trump then said, “Proud Boys – stand down and stand by.”
The Trump camp subsequently wanted that to be taken as a call against violence. The Proud Boys, however, felt emboldened by the statement, according to media reports. At recent pro-Trump demonstrations in Washington, members of the group wore T-shirts with Trump’s words. Tarrio, who grew up in Florida, describes himself as Afro-Cuban and an “American Supremacist.”
The U.S. Civil Liberties Union (ADL) classifies the Proud Boys as an unconventional current in right-wing American extremism. The group can be described as violent, nationalistic and Islamophobic, among other things, the ADL site says. Members have been known to use violent tactics, it said. Several of them have been convicted of violent crimes, it said.
by Jeremy Abbott – American Correspondent – FN