Proud Boys leader to appear in court as DC preps for pro-Trump rallies, Electoral College certification

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Proud Boys leader Henry "Enrique" Tarrio will appear before a superior court judge in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, a day after he was arrested for allegedly burning a Black Lives Matter banner outside a historic Black church during demonstrations last month.

The 36-year-old from Miami returned to the nation’s capital this week ahead of additional protests planned by Trump supporters for Tuesday and Wednesday, as the newly sworn-in Congress will meet to officially count and ratify Electoral College votes as part of the final formal step before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20.  

Tarrio is scheduled to be arraigned before D.C. Superior Court Judge Jonathan Pittman sometime after 1 p.m. Tuesday, Fox News has learned. It was unclear whether he will be escorted in-person by U.S. Marshals or if he will appear virtually.

Heightened security measures are being taken around the Capitol Hill complex ahead of anticipated demonstrations connected to the Electoral College certification Wednesday, and Metropolitan Police has advised that there will be extensive parking restrictions and street closures throughout the District of Columbia.  

DC POLICE INVESTIGATE AFTER BLM SIGN TORN, BANNER TORCHED AT HISTORIC BLACK CHURCHES AFTER PRO-TRUMP RALLIES 

When moving to and from the House Office Buildings and the Capitol, U.S. Capitol Police has encouraged members of Congress and staff to use the underground access points and the Cannon and Rayburn tunnels in lieu of walking outdoors or driving to the Capitol plaza, according to a security memo. Members were encouraged to arrive before 9 a.m. Wednesday before large crowds are expected to gather. 

Tarrio was arrested by Metro Police Department officers Monday "upon entering the District of Columbia and pursuant to a D.C. Superior Court Arrest Warrant," police spokeswoman Alaina Gertz confirmed to Fox News. He was charged with destruction of property related to an offense that occurred on Saturday, Dec. 12, in the 900 block of 11th Street, Northwest.

A video circulated online in connection to the December incident at Asbury United Methodist Church showed a group of people call out, "We are proud of our boys" before pouring an apparent accelerant on a BLM banner and setting it ablaze in the street. Others cheered and cursed Antifa. Someone is seen walking up about a minute later and uses a fire extinguisher to put out the flames.

At the time of his arrest, police said Tarrio was found to be in possession of two high-capacity firearm magazines. He was additionally charged with possession of a high-capacity feeding device.

In a phone interview last month, Tarrio, who was in Miami at the time, told the Washington Post he was among the group of individuals who participated in burning the banner and that he would plead guilty to destruction of property, pay the church the cost of the banner and surrender to authorities if that criminal charge was filed.

In this Sept. 26, 2020, file photo, Proud Boys leader Henry "Enrique" Tarrio wears a hat that says The War Boys during a rally in Portland, Ore. Police in the nation’s capital on Jan. 4, 2021, arrested the leader of the Proud Boys, who is accused of burning a Black Lives Matter banner that was torn down from a historic Black church in downtown Washington in December 2020. (AP Photo/Allison Dinner, File)

The police department said in December that it was investigating the offense as potentially being motivated in whole or in part by hate or bias, though Tarrio has not been charged with a hate crime. 

DC MAYOR URGES RESIDENTS TO STAY AWAY FROM PRO-TRUMP RALLY, GUNS WILL BE BANNED 

John Pierce, the high-profile attorney representing 17-year-old Kenosha gunman Kyle Rittenhouse, said in a statement to Fox News on Tuesday that while he is not formally representing Tarrio or a second man arrested, Chandler Pappas, at this point, "there are discussions under way and I stand by to help if needed."

"Chandler and Enrique are both patriotic Americans who have bravely and consistently defended our way of life over the past year," Pierce said. "As the globalist Marxists attempt to destroy America and our way of life from within, they are taking more and more political prisoners like Kyle Rittenhouse, Chandler Pappas and Enrique Tarrio. This is extremely dangerous and needs to stop immediately. All freedom-loving Americans must do everything they can to fight back."

President Trump and his campaign team have disputed the election results and have brought their claims to courts throughout the country, and nearly all of those legal challenges have failed. A group of GOP senators led by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, have said they will object to Wednesday’s certification of the election results unless there is an emergency 10-day audit of the results by an electoral commission.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Monday that some 340 National Guard soldiers were activated while the city prepared for potentially violent protests this week. On Sunday, the Democratic leader, who has been a staunch critic of Trump, advised residents not to engage with demonstrators "who come to our city seeking confrontation, and we will do what we must to ensure all who attend remain peaceful."

Businesses in downtown D.C. have begun boarding up glass windows and doors with plywood, WRC-TV reported.

Bowser reminded the public and anyone attending the rally that firearms are prohibited "within 1,000 feet of any First Amendment activity." Police have been posting signs near where the rally is set to take place, notifying the public that all firearms will be prohibited — even for city residents who have a concealed carry permit.

Thousands attended two pro-Trump rallies in D.C. on Dec. 12, just two days before the Electoral College met to formally elect Biden as the 46th president. After the rallies ended, downtown Washington quickly devolved into crowds of hundreds of Proud Boys and combined forces of Antifa and local Black activists — both sides seeking a confrontation in an area flooded with police officers.

As dusk fell, they faced off on opposite sides of a street, with multiple lines of city police and federal Park Police, some in riot gear, keeping them separated. Police said they arrested nearly 30 people for a variety of offenses, from assault to weapons possession and resisting arrests and rioting after sundown. In addition to the banner burning at Asbury United Methodist Church, another video showed a group of men appearing to take down a BLM sign at the Metropolitan A.M.E. Church as others in the crowd shout, "Whose streets? Our streets."

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In an interview with the Associated Press Monday night, Rev. Dr. Ianther Mills, senior pastor at Asbury, said the church community is "in some ways of course feeling some relief" following Tarrio’s arrest.

"We just want to see justice be done," Mills said, adding that "we still remain concerned" about the high number of expected protesters in the area in the coming days. She explained that Asbury saw another Black Lives Matter sign taken from its location over the Christmas holiday, prompting her to formally request extra protection for the church during Wednesday’s planned protests. 

Fox News' Bradford Betz and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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