The two offenses that he admitted to committing, including destruction of property in the banner-burning, are misdemeanors, each punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. He is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 23.
Appearing in Superior Court via video, apparently from his Florida home, Tarrio, who is free on his own recognizance, voiced no regret for joining other Proud Boys members in setting fire to the BLM banner on a downtown D.C. street corner the night of Dec. 12.
But he told Senior Judge Harold L. Cushenberry Jr. that he was unaware the banner had been stolen from Asbury United Methodist Church at 11th and K streets NW.
“If I’d have known that banner came from a church, it would not have been burned,” said Tarrio, who was not accused of the theft. A prosecutor said in court that the banner had been stolen by “unidentified members of the group” minutes before being burned.
Police said four D.C. churches were vandalized that night as angry right-wing groups, including the all-male Proud Boys, marched through downtown Washington in support of Trump’s effort to falsely delegitimize President Biden’s election victory.
“We are pleased that Mr. Tarrio is taking responsibility for his actions,” Asbury’s senior pastor, the Rev. Ianther M. Mills, said in a statement Monday.
More than three dozen people were arrested during the Dec. 12 demonstration, and four people were stabbed in a clash involving supporters and opponents of Trump outside a downtown bar. After the stabbings, authorities said, members of the Proud Boys and other demonstrators roamed through the city looking for people to fight.
Following that night’s disturbances, but before he was arrested, Tarrio told The Washington Post that if he were charged with a crime, he would be willing to plead guilty to destruction of property and reimburse the church for the banner.
But he did not regret burning the banner, he said, because he thinks the BLM movement “has terrorized the citizens of this country.”
Tarrio was arrested when he returned to the city Jan. 4, two days before a riotous mob of Trump supporters, including members of the Proud Boys, stormed the U.S. Capitol in a violent attempt to stop Congress from confirming Biden’s election.
Police had obtained an arrest warrant for Tarrio in the banner-burning. On Jan. 4, they stopped a car in which he was riding shortly after it entered the city. While taking him into custody, they said, they searched his book bag and found two high-capacity ammunition magazines bearing Proud Boys symbols.
The unloaded magazines, capable of holding a total of 60 rounds, were compatible with AR-15 and M4 assault rifles, authorities said. Tarrio told police that he sold such magazines on the Internet and had planned to deliver the two in his book bag to a buyer who was in D.C. for the Jan. 6 pro-Trump march.
Tarrio was released Jan. 5 by a Superior Court judge who ordered him to stay out of the city except for court appearances, which forced him to leave Washington before the Jan. 6 rally that descended into deadly mayhem.
Prosecutors have charged more than three dozen alleged members or associates of the Proud Boys with having various roles in the riot, including aggressive attacks on police that helped the mob breach the Capitol building. Four Proud Boys leaders are accused of directing the assault, including a man who had been with Tarrio during the Dec. 12 demonstration, authorities said.
In court Monday, before Tarrio entered his guilty pleas, Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Courtney noted “for the record” that “nothing in the agreement is intended to prevent the government from bringing different or additional charges” against him in the future “based on his conduct on January 6th, 2021, or any other time.”
Tarrio, who has denied being involved in planning the assault on the Capitol, seemed miffed at Courtney’s statement. Shaking his head, he told the judge, “I don’t know why January 6th would be specified in there,” then added, “but I guess I do understand.”
Michelle Boorstein contributed to this report.