Jailed Proud Boys Leader Seeks Early Release; Claims Harassment, Cell Full of Toilet Water

Henry "Enrique" Tarrio, chairman of the Proud Boys far-right extremist group, asked to be released from jail on Monday before finishing his five-month sentence, saying he's been harassed by correctional officers and his cell has flooded regularly with dirty toilet water.

Tarrio is currently in jail for burning a Black Lives Matter banner stolen from a historic Black church in Washington, D.C., during a pro-Trump protest on Dec. 12, according to NBC News.

Tarrio asked for a sentence reduction or to finish under house arrest, claiming he's been exposed to cruel jail conditions. D.C. Superior Court Judge Jonathan Pittman said he would rule by the end of the week on if he would reduce Tarrio's sentence to 90 days. According to the Associated Press, the judge's tone caused Tarrio, who testified by video from jail, to slump in frustration.

"I've been to jail before and what I've seen here, I've never seen anywhere else," Tarrio said. "This place needs to be shut down immediately."

He discussed constantly flooded cells, smoke-filled hallways, abusive guards, and medical neglect. He claimed he witnessed a prisoner have a seizure and lay there for a half hour before help arrived.

"I'm deathly afraid something is going to happen to me," Tarrio said.

Attorneys for the government acknowledged some issues with the jail condition and said they were being addressed. The flooding came from a prisoner who frequently flooded his own toilet in protest, they said. Tarrio has since been moved to another cell. Additionally, the attorneys said Tarrio has not been singled out, mistreated, or denied his rights in any way.

Tarrio's complaints are similar to those of several prisoners charged in the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Local activists have criticized the conditions at the D.C. central jail for a while.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Proud Boys, Henry "Enrique" Tarrio, Jail
Complaining about jail conditions, Henry "Enrique" Tarrio, the top leader of the Proud Boys far-right extremist group, asked a judge Nov. 15, 2021, to free him before he finishes serving a five-month sentence for burning a Black Lives Matter banner taken from a historic Black church in Washington. In this 2020 file photo, Tarrio wears a hat that says "The War Boys" during a rally in Portland, Oregon. Allison Dinner/AP Photo, File

In October, a federal judge held the District of Columbia's corrections director and jail warden in contempt of court and asked the Justice Department to investigate whether inmates' civil rights were being abused. The District and the U.S. Marshals Service struck a deal last week to improve conditions at the jail.

Judge Pittman on Monday took the jail's damaged reputation as proof that Tarrio wasn't being singled out for mistreatment.

"It is obviously distressing to hear of these conditions," he said. "I come back to the same question: How is Mr. Tarrio's condition any different than any other inmate at the jail?"

Tarrio claims he has endured "serious abuses of his rights on a dally basis" while being held in a segregation unit. Jail employees have ignored his requests for medical treatment, thrown cold, often inedible meals into his cell and denied him access to running water in his cell, he said.

"Mr. Tarrio has been intimidated and antagonized by correctional staff to dissuade him from making complaints about the horrendous conditions," wrote Tarrio's attorney, Lucas Dansie.

Roughly three dozen Proud Boys leaders, members and associates have been charged in the Capitol riot. Some of them are charged with conspiring to carry out a coordinated attack on the Capitol to stop Congress from certifying President Joe Biden's electoral victory.

Tarrio wasn't at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and hasn't been charged in connection with the riot. He was arrested in Washington on a warrant two days before the siege and ordered to stay out of the nation's capital.

Tarrio pleaded guilty to destruction of property and attempted possession of a large-capacity ammunition feeding device. Police said officers found two unloaded firearm magazines emblazoned with the Proud Boys logo in Tarrio's bag when they arrested him on Jan. 4.

Proud Boys members frequently brawl with antifascist activists at rallies and protests. With allies like longtime Trump backer Roger Stone, the group of self-described "Western chauvinists" emerged from far-right fringes and entered mainstream GOP circles during former President Donald Trump's administration.

Several January 6 defendants have filed suits about the D.C. jail facility. One of those cases led to a surprise U.S. Marshals Service inspection last month, which found systemic abuse and unsanitary conditions.

A federal judge later found both the jail's warden and the director of the corrections department in contempt of court. U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth had summoned the jail officials to court in the case of Christopher Worrell, a member of the Proud Boys who has been charged in the January 6 attack and who was delayed medical care for a broken wrist.

The Justice Department announced plans to transfer 400 federal prisoners from a total population of about 1,500 to another facility in Pennsylvania. However, Tarrio and the other January 6 defendants were not set to be part of that transfer.

Tarrio on Monday cited the federal prisoner transfer as proof that the D.C. jail was simply unfit to continue operating.

He told the judge, "They don't move 400 prisoners for nothing."

Henry "Enrique" Tarrio, Jail, Proud Boys
Henry "Enrique" Tarrio, leader of the Proud Boys, asked to be released from jail, saying he has been harassed by correctional officers and his cell has flooded regularly with dirty toilet water. Above, he holds an American flag during a protest showing support for Cubans demonstrating against their government, in Miami, Florida, on July 16, 2021. Eva Marie Uzcategui/AFP via Getty Images