A judge ordered the far-right Proud Boys group on Friday (June 30) to pay more than $1 million to a historic Black church in downtown Washington, D.C., for tearing down and burning its Black Lives Matter banner during a December 2020 protest, The New York Times reports.
The Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church filed a lawsuit against the organization’s leaders for members climbing over a fence to enter the church’s property and vandalizing the BLM sign during clashes between pro-Donald Trump supporters and counterdemonstrators.
Judge Neal E. Kravitz of the D.C. Superior Court entered a default judgment against the defendants, including the former leader Enrique Tarrio, Joseph R. Biggs and Ethan Nordean who were among the Proud Boys members convicted in May of seditious conspiracy for their part in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
Federal prosecutors presented evidence at trial showing that the defendants plotted to violently block the transfer of power from Trump, who falsely claimed that the election was stolen from him, to President Joe Biden.
In his ruling, Kravits wrote that the Proud Boys “incited and committed acts of violence against members of Black and African American communities” and has “victimized women, Muslims, Jews, immigrants and other historically marginalized people.”
On March 29, Metropolitan AME asked the court for a $22 million punitive judgment against the Proud Boys, justifying the large award as a deterrent to end the organization’s terror campaign, HuffPost reported.
“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,” Rev. William H. Lamar IV, pastor of Metropolitan AME, said after the ruling, according to the Associated Press.
“While AME 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.”