By Andrew Stanton On 9/6/21 at 10:08 PM EDT
The attorney for Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the right-wing extremist Proud Boys group, filed an emergency appeal Monday night requesting for Tarrio’s five-month sentence to be reduced, alleging the judge was biased—just hours ahead of when he was expected to turn himself in.
Tarrio pleaded guilty in July to burning a Black Lives Matter flag he took from Asbury United Methodist Church—a historic Black church in Washington D.C.—on December 12 using lighter fluid and lighters. He was arrested January 4, just days before the attack at the U.S. Capitol and pleaded guilty to charges of destruction of property and attempted possession of a large-capacity ammunition feeding device.
In the appeal—which was posted to Twitter by WUSA-TV reporter Eric Flack—his attorney requested the judge, Harold Cushenberry Jr., recuses himself from the case because he previously attended the church and his oldest daughter was baptized there.
The appeal claims Cushenberry previously said he would be “perfectly willing” to recuse himself if Tarrio was concerned about the possible conflict of interest. His attorney asked for a different judge to reconsider and “substantially reduce” the sentence, which was imposed August 23.
In the hours leading up to his sentence, Tarrio posted a message to his followers on Telegram along with a link to a donation website. He said he feels “at peace” with going to prison.
“First I want to thank the thousands of true American patriots who have offered their prayers and support as I embark on this next chapter of my life. I am not worried and feel at peace with what I must do over the next five months,” Tarrio wrote. “My message to them is simple, don’t give up the ship. Keep holding power to account and never back down. They want to kill you, our patriotism, and cause the total erasure of our culture.”
During his August 23 sentencing, he said via teleconference that he was “profusely” sorry for making such a “grave mistake.”
“What I did was wrong,” Tarrio said during the hearing.
He told the Washington Post before his arrest in January that he did not regret burning the flag because he believed Black Lives Matter “has terrorized the citizens of this country.”
The Rev. Dr. Ianther Mills, the senior pastor of the church, said in December that seeing the burning “pained” him and compared it to cross burnings.
“Last night demonstrators who were part of the MAGA gatherings tore down our Black Lives Matter sign and literally burned it in the street. The sign burning was captured on Twitter,” Mills wrote in a statement. “It pained me especially to see our name, Asbury, in flames. For me it was reminiscent of cross burnings.”