- The Washington Times - Monday, January 4, 2021

A civil rights group on Monday filed a lawsuit against the Proud Boys and one of its leaders over allegations its members last month vandalized a historically Black church in Washington.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, one of the city’s oldest churches builtin 1886.

The lawsuit names Proud Boys and one of its founders, Enrique Tarrio, over the purported incident.

“Out suit seeks to hold accountable those responsible for vandalizing and terrorizing a historic Black church because of its support for racial justice. This attack is a new chapter in a long and despicable history of mob violence targeting Black houses of worship,” said Kristen Clarke, the civil rights group’s president and executive director, on Twitter.

“The proud boys are not above the law,” she added.

The lawsuit names unidentified members of the Proud Boys, accusing them of ripping down a Black Lives Matter sign from the AME church.

Members of the all-male, right-wing Proud Boys descended on Washington last month for a pro-Trump protest.

The incident at AME church was posted on social media. A video circulating shows a group of men identified as Proud Boys tearing down the sign. As they remove the sign, they are heard chanting, “Whose Streets? Our Streets!” while destroying the sign in front of the church.

Another video showed a Black Lives Matter banner being removed from a second historically Black Church, the Asbury United Methodist Church, dating back to 1836.

The D.C. police are investigating the incidents as hate crimes.

Both incidents were condemned at the time by Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser, a Democrat, and AME pastor, Rev. Ianther Mills.

“Last night demonstrators who were part of the MAGA gatherings tore down our Black Lives Matter sign and literally burned it in the street,” Mr. Mills said last month. “It pained me especially to see our name, Asbury, in flames. For me, it was reminiscent of cross burnings.”

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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