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Proud Boys Sued by Black Church Over D.C. Rally Vandalism

Jan. 4, 2021, 9:11 PM

A historic Black church says the Proud Boys and several of its members engaged in acts of terror and vandalism during a December rally in Washington with the aim of silencing its support for racial justice, according to a lawsuit filed in a local court Monday.

Protesters gathered in the nation’s capital Dec. 12 to contest President Donald Trump’s re-election loss, including members of the militant far-right Proud Boys. The rally resulted in violent clashes between protesters and counterprotesters.

The Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, like other nearby churches, “was terrorized through coordinated acts of violence when Proud Boys members climbed over a fence surrounding the Church, came on to the Church’s property and destroyed a large Black Lives Matter sign the Church was proudly displaying,” according to a complaint filed in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

The incident was an attempt to silence the church’s support for the racial justice movement and “a new and dangerous chapter in the long and terrible history of white supremacist mob violence targeting Black houses of worship,” Metropolitan AME says.

The Proud Boys’ presence on church property “was no accident,” but the result of months of planning and coordination, Metropolitan AME says.

“In countless messages transmitted over social media platforms and messaging services, Defendants and their co-conspirators promised that there would be violence in their wake, and, as the events of December 12 demonstrate, they made good on their promises,” it says.

The suit, which comes two days before the president has encouraged additional protests in Washington over his electoral defeat, names Proud Boys International LLC, chairman Enrique Tarrio, and several unidentified members as defendants.

Causes of Action: Bias-related conspiracy, theft, and defacement of private property; conversion; trespass to chattel; trespass to realty; and intentional damage or destruction of religious property.

Relief Requested: Damages.

Response: The defendants couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

Attorneys: Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights & Urban Affairs, and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP represent the church.

The case is Metro. African Methodist Episcopal Church v. Proud Boys Int’l LLC, D.C. Super. Ct., No. 2021-CA-000004, complaint filed 1/4/21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Flood in Washington at bflood@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Steven Patrick at spatrick@bloomberglaw.com

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