Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio left jail a month early wearing a T-shirt saying “free the Proud Boys by any means necessary” after saying he no longer wants to lead the far-right group.
Tarrio left the Central Detention Facility in Washington, DC on Friday after serving four months of his five-month sentence.
The gang leader and law enforcement informant was sent to jail in September for burning a Black Lives Matter flag outside of a church in the capital and for being in possession of two high-capacity magazines.
Tarrio was arrested two days ahead of the insurrection last year, divulging to The Washington Post that he stole and burned the flag.
He tried to reduce his sentence by arguing that the judge had a conflict of interest. His attempt failed after he claimed to accept responsibility for his actions during the court proceeding.
“What I did was wrong,” he told the judge.
A few days before his release, Tarrio told the Miami New Times in a phone call from the DC jail that he plans to leave his leadership role in the Proud Boys.
“Once I get back and organize the mess in South Florida’s Proud Boys, I’m gonna take a step back from leadership. It’s something I should have done before, and that was my mistake,” he said.
Before pleading guilty in August and going to jail in September, Tarrio was the chairman of the Proud Boys.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Proud Boys’ “actions belie their disavowals of bigotry: Rank-and-file Proud Boys and leaders regularly spout white nationalist memes and maintain affiliations with known extremists. They are known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric”.
Following his arrest, Tarrio was unable to attend the Capitol riot on 6 January, but he has been sued in relation to the insurrection in connection to his role as leader for the group. He’s also been subpoenaed by the House Select Committee investigating 6 January.
He told the paper that the lawsuits are part of a “war of attrition”. He said that he would never leave the Proud Boys entirely, but added that his future endeavours would focus on local political activism.
“I have a vision of what I’m going to do next, and I’m dying to get started. We’ve been federal protesters for a long time and I want to get us hyperfocused at a local level,” Tarrio said.
He previously served as Florida director and chief of staff at Latinos for Trump. Tarrio said taking action for right-wing ideas on the local level would be the next step for the “MAGA movement”.
He added that he wanted the new group to focus on young people and women, and for it to be a place for people who supported former President Donald Trump after feeling disenfranchised.
Tarrio said he wants the group to act via school board meetings, city council meetings, and municipal elections.
“Moms are a very, very strong force. They count for about 80 to 90 per cent of protesters at the school board,” Tarrio told the Miami New Times. “I want to get people who wanna go door-knocking, who wanna run for office, people who think the same and just want to grab a sign and a bullhorn and get them organized.”