At the brief, but at times contentious, hearing Monday, Tarrio’s attorney argued his client had tried to check in with the agency by phone but said officials failed to provide a working number. Tarrio later told the judge he had to Google the agency to find a number.
Tarrio, 33, was arrested in the District on Jan. 4 and charged with destruction of property in the burning of a Black Lives Matter banner outside a D.C. church in December. In addition to the misdemeanor, Tarrio also faces felony counts of possessing two extended, empty rifle magazines, each capable of holding 30 rounds of .223-caliber, AR-15-compatible ammunition. Tarrio told authorities he planned to sell the magazines when he was in the District.
Tarrio is the leader of the Proud Boys, a far-right group with a history of violence that has supported former president Donald Trump’s false claims that he won the November election. The banner was burned during a pro-Trump demonstration Dec. 12.
At the hearing, federal prosecutor Paul Courtney said Tarrio was a loss of contact from Jan. 5 through Feb. 5. Since then, Courtney said, Tarrio has checked in weekly and has verified his address. Courtney called Tarrio’s explanation for not initially reaching the agency “ridiculous” and said hundreds of other defendants each week comply with the agency’s orders.
Tarrio’s attorney, Lucas I. Dansie, repeatedly called the hearing a “show” and accused the government of being “vindictive” and “selective against” his client. “The government is using this as a platform to try to silence Mr. Tarrio for his speech and try to embarrass him,” Dansie said.
Judge John M. Campbell interrupted Dansie and reminded him that his client, who lives in Miami, was granted permission to return to Florida only on the condition he regularly checked in with pretrial services.
“This hearing is not special to Mr. Tarrio’s case. It is commonplace when a defendant is out of touch with pretrial and doesn’t comply. This is to let you know, we don’t take this lightly. If you violate pretrial, you end up in jail,” Campbell said.
Tarrio apologized for failing to check in with the agency and said he took the requirement seriously. “It is inexcusable that I didn’t call. But I did try,” Tarrio said.
Tarrio’s next court date is June 8.