The head of the right-wing Proud Boys organization was arrested in Washington in connection with the December arson of a Black Lives that Matters banner taken out of a church during protests, police said.
Enrique Tarrio, 36, has been taken into custody as the American capital prepares to demonstrate against Joe Biden’s certification as the next US president to Congress.
Tarrio, who has just arrived in Washington from Florida, has been charged with property destruction at the Asbury United Methodist Church. It is a predominantly African American church where he and others allegedly set fire to a banner during the December 12 protests.
In addition, he was charged with illegally carrying two large-capacity stores at the time of his arrest, police said.
In a parallel trial on Monday, the Washington African Methodist Episcopal Church, which is also predominantly African American, accused Tarrio and other Proud Boys members of tearing and burning its banner during protests in December.
Tarrio was arrested ahead of protests scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday by supporters of President Donald Trump who back his claims that he, not Biden, won the presidential election on November 3.
Local law enforcement has already been on high alert, and Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser has urged residents in the capital to avoid downtown during protests.
She said she was assessing the appropriateness of curfews to prevent violence, local media reported.