Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the far-right Proud Boys group, was released Friday after serving just over four months in jail for burning a Black Lives Matter banner stolen from a historic black church in Washington late in 2020.
Tarrio, wearing jeans and a black t-shirt with a photo of Malcolm X brandishing a firearm along with the words, “@FREETHEPROUDBOYS … BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY.”, was spotted greeting and hugging his fiancée as he left Washington, DC’s Central Detention Facility.
The 37-year-old was also carrying a white plastic bag that appeared to contain his belongings.
After greeting his family, Tarrio told reporters he was feeling “great” about his release, but noted that he was still worried for several Capitol riot defendants who are being held at the jail.
Last August, Tarrio was sentenced to more than five months in jail after pleading guilty in July to torching the BLM banner. It was not immediately clear why Tarrio was released before the end of his sentence.
Department of Justice officials have said unidentified members of the Proud Boys stole the banner from Asbury United Methodist Church on Dec. 12, 2020, and burned it after dousing it in lighter fluid. Tarrio uploaded a photo of himself holding an unlit lighter to his Parler social media account.
Not long after, the Proud Boys leader admitted his guilt to the Washington Post.
“Let me make this simple. I did it,” he said.
In addition to the property damage, Tarrio was also charged with carrying two high-capacity firearm magazines to Washington ahead of last year’s riot. Authorities found the magazines upon his arrest for burning the banner.
Originally, Tarrio was sentenced to 90 days in jail for property damage and 150 days for ammunition offenses. However, a judge revised the sentence to 155 days and three years of probation. Tarrio was also ordered to pay $1,000 in fines and $347 in damages to the church.
Tarrio walked out of jail just two months after he requested an early release, citing inhumane living conditions, according to The Hill.
The request was denied at the time, with DC Superior Court Judge Jonathan Pittman saying Tarrio failed to present “extraordinary and compelling reasons” to be released early.
It is unclear what role Tarrio holds in the Proud Boys upon his release.
Shortly before Tarrio started his jail term in September, he posed for pictures pretending to hold a flame to the US Capitol building.
In his final hours of freedom, he posted the photos to Telegram and urged his supporters to “keep protesting.”
“While it may be me today who is bearing the brunt of an over-politicized Biden Justice Department that caters to the Marxist mob, tomorrow it will be everyday Americans who they will set their sights on,” he said.
“Make no mistake, they are coming after me in order to intimidate patriots into submission,” he added. “My message to them is simple: don’t give up the ship. Keep protesting, keep holding power to account and never back down. They want to kill you, our patriotism, and cause the total erasure of our culture.”