Members of the Proud Boys were ordered Saturday to pay over $1 million for violently tearing down and burning a “Black Lives Matter” sign posted outside a predominantly black church in Washington, DC, in 2020.
The extremist group and its leaders were also barred from coming near the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church or making threats or defamatory remarks against it or its pastor for five years, Superior Court Associated Judge Neal A. Kravitz ruled.
Kravitz called the hate-fueled demonstration an “attack” on the Metropolitan AME that “resulted from a highly orchestrated set of events focused on the Proud Boys’ guiding principles: white supremacy and violence.”
The group must pay the church $1.03 million for their “hateful and overtly racist” conduct, Kravitz said.
The ruling was a default judgment issued after the Proud Boys failed to show up in court to fight the case.
The ruling comes years after the Metropolitan AME sued the neo-fascist group, alleging they violated DC and federal law by trespassing and destroying religious property in a bias-related conspiracy.
The Proud Boys ripped and stomped on the BLM poster during pro-Trump demonstrations in the nation’s capital in December 2020 following weeks of far-right allegations that the former president lost his re-election bid because of widespread voter fraud.
“Our courage and determination to fight back in response to the 2020 attack on our church is a beacon of hope for our community and today’s ruling showed us what our collective vision and voice can achieve,” the Rev. William H. Lamar IV, pastor of Metropolitan AME, in a statement from the church’s counsel on Saturday.
“While A.M.E. refused to be silenced in the face of white supremacist violence, that does not mean real trauma and damage did not occur – merely that congregants and the church have and will continue to rise above it.”
A video captured the melee, where dozens of Proud Boys can be seen punching and stomping on the sign right outside the front door of Metropolitan AME, while other demonstrators celebrate by chanting, “Our streets!”
The group moved to Asbury United Methodist Church, another predominately black congregation, and committed the act a second time.
Weeks later, Proud Boy leader Enrique Tarrio was arrested and later convicted of destruction of property for the act — which he admitted to an interview with The Washington Post.
He was in custody at the time of the Jan. 6 insurrection but connived with other Proud Boy leaders from behind bars in order to orchestrate the attempted coup.
He and two other leaders were found guilty in May of seditious conspiracy for directing members of the group to storm the Capitol in a desperate bid to keep Donald Trump in power after the Republican lost the 2020 presidential election.
With Post wires