Proud Boys leaders asks for release from ‘inhumane’ DC jail

Far-right group chairman Henry ‘Enrique’ Tarrio says his cell is flooded with dirty toilet water

Sravasti Dasgupta
Tuesday 16 November 2021 13:57

File: Several members of Proud Boys group have been charged for the 6 January Capitol Hill riots

A top leader of the far-right extremist group Proud Boys has alleged inhumane jail conditions and asked a judge to free him before he finished his five-month sentence.

Proud Boys chairman Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, currently lodged in DC Central Jail, was arrested on 4 January, just two days before the Capitol Hill riot.

While he was not present during the riot, he was found with two unloaded firearm magazines emblazoned with the Proud Boys logo in his bag when police arrested him.

He has pleaded guilty to destruction of property and attempted possession of a large-capacity ammunition feeding device before the riot.

Proud Boys, an all-male gang known for violence at public rallies and a misogynistic and racist philosophy, have routinely clashed with anti-fascist protesters. They entered mainstream GOP circles during former president Donald Trump’s administration.

On Monday, Tarrio appeared in court virtually and asked DC Superior Court judge Jonathan Pittman to reduce his sentence to 90 days or allow him to finish his sentence at home, reported Associated Press (AP).

“I’m deathly afraid that something is going to happen to me,” said Tarrio.

He said that his cell was constantly flooded with dirty toilet water from a neighbouring cell. He also alleged that correctional guards had been abusive, ignored his requests for medical treatment, thrown cold, often inedible meals into his cell and denied him access to running water.

His lawyer Lucas Dansie said he had been also been threatened by the guards not to complain about the jail conditions.

Tarrio added that the jail also did not give due medical attention to inmates. He said he witnessed a prisoner having a seizure lay there for half an hour before any help arrived.

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

The DC Department of Corrections did not immediately respond to AP’s request for comment.

Attorneys for the government, however, denied any mistreatment to Tarrio.

They said that flooding in Tarrio’s cell came from a prisoner in a neighbouring cell who regularly flooded his own toilet in protest.

The lawyers added that other problems in the jail too are being addressed and that Tarrio has already been moved to another cell.

Tarrio is not the only prisoner who has complained about jail conditions in DC Central Jail.

Several other 6 January riot prisoners have raised similar complaints about the jail, which has for long been criticised by rights groups for their living conditions.

In October a federal judge held the District of Columbia’s corrections director and jail warden in contempt of court in the case of Proud Boys member Christopher Worrell, who was charged in the 6 January attack, and was delayed medical care for a broken wrist in jail.

Last week a deal was struck between the District and the US Marshals Service to improve jail conditions.

Referring to the jail’s history, Judge Pittman said on Monday: “It is obviously distressing to hear of these conditions. I come back to the same question: How is Mr Tarrio’s condition any different than any other inmate at the jail?”

The judge is set to rule in the case next week.

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