A District of Columbia Superior Court handed down a million-dollar judgment against the Proud Boys for vandalizing a “Black Lives Matter” banner during a 2020 protest in Washington. The banner belonged to the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, a predominantly black congregation in the district.
Associate Judge Neal Kravitz also ordered the Proud Boys and their leaders to maintain a “respectful distance” from the church for five years. The restraining order also extends to prohibit any threats or derogatory comments against the church or its pastor.
1 million dollars for a sign? Cannot speak about or be near this church? Definitely a violation of the 1st amendment. But hey, the new national flag gets more protection and pride of placement at the White House, so I suppose the constitution is irrelevant https://t.co/89L0p0O4wU
— Patrick Rafferty (@RaffyPindaHouse) July 2, 2023
The case was decided as a default judgment, as the Proud Boys and their leaders failed to appear before the court. It was in December 2020 when two “Black Lives Matter” banners were taken down and set aflame amid political clashes between supporters of then-President Donald Trump and opposition groups.
The AME Church took legal action against the Proud Boys and their leadership, alleging that they had violated local and federal laws by trespassing and destroying religious property in a bias-related incident.
Proud Boys leader Henry “Enrique” Tarrio had publicly admitted to destroying one of the banners and was sentenced to more than five months behind bars after pleading guilty to two misdemeanor charges related to the incident in 2021. This sentencing was separate from the charges he and other Proud Boys members faced related to the Capitol protests on January 6, 2021.
Judge Kravitz described the incident as a “hate-fueled attack” on the AME Church that stemmed from a coordinated set of actions centered around the Proud Boys’ white supremacist principles and violence. The group must now pay the church $1.03 million for their conduct, which Kravitz described as “hateful and overtly racist.”
The far-right group was also accused of performing a similar act at the Asbury United Methodist Church, another predominately black congregation. Following these incidents, Tarrio was arrested, convicted of property destruction, and later implicated in the attempted Capitol coup.
In response to the court’s decision, Metropolitan AME Pastor Rev. William H. Lamar IV said, “Our courage and determination to fight back in response to the 2020 attack on our church is a beacon of hope for our community.”