Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio was arrested Monday afternoon in Washington, D.C., shortly after landing in the nation’s capital to attend rallies protesting President Donald Trump’s loss in November’s election.
Tarrio, 36, was on a phone call with a USA Today reporter when the call was interrupted by loud sirens. He joked that “They’re for me,” and then, sounding confused, asked the driver of the car he was riding in to pull over. Tarrio told the reporter, “Here’s something to write about,” before hanging up the call.
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police Department said Tarrio was arrested and charged with destruction of property in connection with an incident last month where Tarrio set fire to a Black Lives Matter banner after a Trump rally. Tarrio later boasted about it on social media. Officials said Tarrio, who is a convicted felon, was arrested while in possession of two high-capacity firearm magazines and was additionally charged with “Possession of High Capacity Feeding Device.”
Earlier in the day, Tarrio, whose legal first name is Henry, was also sued by the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights in relation to the banner-burning incident. The lawsuit, filed in Washington, D.C., Superior Court, cites numerous instances of Proud Boys posting threatening and violent messages on social media before the December Trump rally that resulted in violence across downtown D.C.
Tarrio did not answer his phone or respond to text messages on Monday afternoon after the arrest. Tarrio, who lives in Miami, also serves as chief of staff of Latinos for Trump, a booster group with links to the White House.
On the social media site Parler, favored by the Proud Boys, Tarrio’s followers expressed anger and frustration at the news of his arrest.
“They are going to try there hardest to STOP PATRIOTS from getting into DC” one user wrote.
The arrest of Tarrio will likely have implications for a slew of protests planned for the capital this weekend. Local law enforcement officials are already on high alert and Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser warned residents to avoid the downtown area during the protests. She said she is evaluating whether a curfew is necessary to discourage violence, according to local media reports.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Proud Boys leader arrested ahead of DC protests to support Trump