Skip to Content

Proud Boys members ordered to pay over $1 million in ‘hateful and overtly racist’ church destruction civil suit

<i>mpi34/MediaPunch/IPX/AP</i><br/>The Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington
The Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington

By Josh Campbell, CNN

(CNN) — Members of the right-wing extremist group, the Proud Boys, have been ordered to pay more than a million dollars as part of a civil suit judgment involving the destruction of property in December 2020 at the predominantly Black campus of the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, DC.

DC Superior Court Judge Neal E. Kravitz approved Friday’s default judgment against Proud Boys members Joseph R. Biggs, Enrique Tarrio, Jeremy Bertino and John Turano, as well as the group’s limited liability corporation.

In a blistering order, Kravitz described the “highly orchestrated” and “hateful and overtly racist conduct” from members of the Proud Boys during the “attack” on the Metropolitan AME church, in which a Black Lives Matter sign owned by the church was allegedly destroyed.

CNN has reached out to attorneys for Tarrio and Biggs for comment on the judgment, and is attempting to locate attorney information for the other named defendants.

A request for comment on the judgment has also been made to the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church.

According to Kravitz’s order, on December 12, 2020, several people in Proud Boys regalia “leaped over Metropolitan AME’s fence, entered the church’s property, and went directly to the Black Lives Matter sign. They then broke the zip ties that held the sign in place, tore down the sign, threw it to the ground, and stomped on it while loudly celebrating. Many others then jumped over the fence onto the church’s property and joined in the celebration of the sign’s destruction.”

Describing the target of the attack, Kravitz wrote, “For generations, the leaders of Metropolitan AME and the members of its congregation have vocally and publicly supported movements for civil rights and racial justice,” adding, “Church leaders and congregants view supporting the Black Lives Matter movement as a continuation of the church’s mission of advocacy for civil rights and racial justice.”

In his rebuke of the Proud Boys, the judge wrote that the group has “incited and committed acts of violence against members of Black and African American communities across the country. They also have victimized women, Muslims, Jews, immigrants, and other historically marginalized people.”

The church sought compensatory damages as part of the civil suit, in part to repair the sign and increase security in the wake of the attack and due to “ongoing threats,” the order said.

“The ultimate goal of this lawsuit was not monetary windfall, but to stop the Proud Boys from being able to act with impunity, without fear of consequences for their actions,” the plaintiff’s co-counsel, Arthur Ago, said in a statement after the judgment. “And that’s exactly what we accomplished.”

In July 2021, Tarrio, the group’s leader, pleaded guilty to property destruction in a criminal case involving the burning of a Black Lives Matter banner at a different, predominately Black church in Washington, and also pleaded guilty to attempted possession of a high-capacity magazine, a violation of local gun control laws. He was later sentenced to more than five months in jail for those crimes.

In May, Tarrio and Biggs were also among a group of four Proud Boys members found guilty of seditious conspiracy by a jury in Washington for their roles in attempting to forcibly prevent the peaceful transfer of power from President Donald Trump to Joe Biden after the 2020 election.

This headline has been updated.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Katelyn Polantz, Marshall Cohen, Hannah Rabinowitz and Holmes Lybrand contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

Jump to comments ↓

CNN Newsource


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content