In this file photo, Proud Boys leader Henry "Enrique" Tarrio wears a hat that says The War Boys during a rally in Portland.
WASHINGTON: The chairman of the right-wing Proud Boys group was arrested Monday in Washington over the torching last month of a Black Lives Matter banner taken from a church during violent protests, police said.
Enrique Tarrio, 36, was taken into custody as the US capital braces for demonstrations against lawmakers' certification this week of Joe Biden as the next US president.
Tarrio, who had just arrived in the city from Florida, was charged with destruction of property at the Asbury United Methodist Church, a mainly African American church where he and others allegedly burned the banner during violent protests on December 12.
He was hit with additional charges of possessing two illegal high capacity firearm magazines at the time of his arrest, police said.
In a parallel court case unveiled Monday, Tarrio and other members of the Proud Boys were accused by the historic Metropolitan AME church, also mainly African American, with tearing down and burning its banner during the protests last month.
"The conduct of the Proud Boys in Washington, DC on December 12, 2020, amounted to a new and dangerous chapter in the long and terrible history of white supremacist mob violence targeting Black houses of worship," the church said in its filing.
The arrest came ahead of protests planned on Tuesday and Wednesday by backers of President Donald Trump supporting his unfounded claim that he, and not Biden, won the November 3 presidential election.
Washington police said Monday they were worried about potential violence, particularly from groups like the Proud Boys, and warned that people carrying firearms would be arrested.
"We will not allow people to incite violence or intimidate our residents," said Mayor Muriel Bowser.