The leader of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, said he participated in the burning of a Black Lives Matter banner that had been ripped from the facade of a historic Black church during unrest in downtown Washington following a rally earlier this month for President Trump.
Tarrio, the chairman of the male-chauvinist organization with ties to white nationalism, said in an interview with The Washington Post he would plead guilty to destruction of property, pay the church the cost of the banner and surrender to authorities if that criminal charge is filed.
“I’ll fly there on my own dime,” said Tarrio, who was in Miami on Friday, and spoke in a telephone interview days after D.C. police and the FBI posted rewards in their search for people responsible in the case. “I have nothing to hide.”
Tarrio wrote he was speaking out against the advice of his attorney: “So let me make this simple. I did it.”
A spokesman for D.C. police said the investigation is continuing and they consider the incident a potential hate crime.
Tarrio — who also posted comments related to the burning on two social media sites, Parler and Telegram — said he would not admit to committing a hate crime. He said he was not motivated by race, religion or political ideology, but because he believes the Black Lives Matter movement “has terrorized the citizens of this country.”
Some see obvious racial motivation in destruction of a sign bearing the Black Lives Matter slogan, used to advocate for racial justice and equality.
Earlier this week, the FBI’s Washington Field Office tweeted it had joined “in partnership” with D.C. police seeking help identifying potential suspects in the incident, and doubled the District’s $1,000 reward. The poster shows pictures of people and a burning banner; Tarrio does not appear to be in those photos.