The leader of the Proud Boys says he is “not ashamed” of burning a Washington DC church’s Black Lives Matter sign.
The right wing group’s chairman Enrique Tarrio says he was responsible for setting the banner on fire after a MAGA rally in the city last weekend.
The disturbing incident is being investigated as a potential hate crime and a religious leader has compared it to “cross burnings.”
The BLM sign was taken from the Asbury United Methodist Church, one of the oldest Black churches in Washington DC, during a night of violence after the pro-Trump rally.
Mr Tarrio took to conservative social media site Parler to post a picture of himself and other men using lighters to torch the sign.
Mr Tarrio denied on Parler that the act was a hate crime and wrote that it was done “out of love” for the country.
“I’m here to tell you that there was no hate crime committed. The only hate there is in my heart is for communism and an authoritarian government,” wrote Mr Tarrio.
“BLM is a Marxist movement. It isn’t about the color of someone’s skin.
“Against the wishes of my attorney I am here today to admit that I am the person responsible for the burning of this sign.
And I am not ashamed of what I did because I didn’t do it out of hate… I did it out of love. Love for a country that has given my family SO MUCH.”
Now they’re burning it. pic.twitter.com/Umz80dIw7y
— Sawyer Hackett (@SawyerHackett) December 13, 2020
Police are also offering a $1,000 reward to anyone providing information leading to an arrest and indictment, and the FBI Washington Field Office has offered $2,000.
“The burning of this banner wasn’t about race, religion or political ideology, it was about a racist movement that has terrorised the citizens of this country. I will not standby and watch them burn another city,” added Mr Tarrio.
“So let me make this simple. I did it. Come get me if you feel like what I did was wrong. We’ll let the public decide.”