"magical moments"

Proud Boys leader says members sometimes slap each other’s butts to resolve disputes

Enrique Tarrio at a Proud Boys rally in 2019
Enrique Tarrio (foreground) at a Proud Boys rally in 2019 (Photo: Shutterstock)

Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the alt-right group Proud Boys, took himself to a Washington DC prison this week to begin a five-month sentence.

He was sentenced in August for stealing and burning a Black Lives Matter flag from a church and possessing two high-capacity magazines that are banned in DC.

However, before turning himself in, Tarrio found time to plead to his followers for donations, and pose for a selfie holding a burning cigarette lighter in front of the Capitol Building, while wearing a Malcolm X T-shirt.

He also gave an interview to Vice in which he claimed he was a free-speech martyr, and gave an insight into some of the goings-on into the Proud Boys.

As many suspect, it’s a group for those who’ve watched Fight Club one too many times.

There are known to be internal frictions within the organization, with some members splintering into other groups. Tarrio said he was often called upon to settle disputes, and this meant he would sometimes call upon individuals to fight it out.

“At our national event, every year, we put a boxing ring together, or I rent an octagon, the guys put gloves on, and they just fucking go ham on each other,” he said.

However, sometimes, “they don’t even want to fight. They get drunk, they slap each other’s asses, they kiss each other on the fucking cheek, lick each other in the fucking face, you know? And I’m like, you guys were just fucking calling each other the most stupidest thing just a month ago.”

Tarrio said that watching these moments of male bonding and argument resolution was “pretty magical.”

Tarrio said that although he’s going to jail, he has no plans to step down from his role with Proud Boys.

“I won’t be able to fulfill my duties but I think the guys have it well taken care of,” he said.

Tarrio took over his role in 2018. There is little information on how the group selects its leader, but Tarrio has previously hinted at a re-election process that he is still deciding whether to run for again.

Around 30 people with connections to the Proud Boys are facing charges related to the January 6 storming of the Capitol in DC.

Related: The Proud Boys spew hateful garbage at kids attending an all-ages drag show

Proud Boys were set up in 2016, taking a proudly pro-chauvinist, anti-immigration stance. Trans men are not allowed to join. It has been desiganted an extremist hate group by Southern Poverty Law Center.

The group has staged its own rallies, and have recently been showing up to school board meetings to protest mask mandates and protest against Black Lives Matter. They have also targeted left-wing groups with violence and protested against drag performances aimed at kids.

Its leadership has denied the group is homophobic, but many find outside of the organization find this hard to believe. In 2020, thousands of LGBTQ people guys made the #ProudBoys hashtag trend on Twitter by posting photos of proud gay coupes, to drown out content related to the group.

Related: Gay Twitter reclaims #ProudBoys hashtag, floods social media with images of love

Before turning himself into jail, Tarrio’s lawyer filed an 11th hour, 67-page appeal against the five-month sentence, claiming it to be “unreasonably harsh and disproportionate.”

At his court case, Tarrio apologized for the flag burning and said he had not realized it had been taken from a historically black church. He said there was “no excuse” for his actions.

On Monday, when walking up to the jail, reporters asked Tarrio if he had anything to say to the Church which had the BLM flag.

“I’ve nothing to say to the members of that church or congregation anymore. I already apologized to them once,” he replied.