At next Miami rally, reject the Proud Boys. Hate has no place in quest for Cuba’s freedom | Editorial
Miami’s homegrown extremist, Proud Boy leader Enrique Tarrio, has pleaded guilty to burning a Black Lives Matter banner stolen Jan. 12 from a historic African-American church in Washington., D.C.. During a video hearing on Monday, he told the judge the flag wouldn’t have been burned if he’d known it had come from a church.
But he offered no words of regret for his repugnant actions.
You’d think someone who has admitted to two misdemeanors — destruction of property in the burning of the banner and a reduced charge of attempting to possess a high-capacity ammunition magazine — might keep a low profile. For one reason, he won’t be sentenced until next month and could face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine on each count. But Tarrio and members of his group have been showing up at demonstrations in Miami during the last week in support of protesters in Cuba who are courageously speaking out despite repression.
Let’s be clear: That is not the kind of support the Cuban-American community here — or any community — needs. Miami must repudiate Tarrio, his group and his extremism at every opportunity, just as we repudiate the far-left extremism of a handful of BLM activists who have come out in support of the repressive regime in Cuba. In each case, legitimate causes for freedom and reform are subverted.
Part of Capitol attack
Tarrio’s Proud Boys were among the angry, far-right organizations that marched through Washington in support of Donald Trump’s false claims that Joe Biden hadn’t won the presidency. This is the group that gained prominence during the presidential debates when then-President Trump told them to “stand back and stand by.”
Another Miami member, Gabriel Garcia — who ran for a Florida House seat in Miami — was actually charged with taking part in the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol, a violent and unprecedented attack by a pro-Trump mob. And while Tarrio didn’t directly participate in the invasion — maybe because he’d been arrested in Washington on the banner-burning charge two days before — police found two empty high-capacity rifle magazines decorated with Proud Boys logos in his backpack and found a social-media post of his discussing plans for Proud Boys to be at the rally, to dress in black to be incognito and break into smaller groups. Other members of the group also have been charged with participating in the invasion.
Maybe that’s why prosecutors included a caveat in Terrio’s plea deal, noting that nothing in the agreement prevents the government from charging him in the future “based on his conduct on January 6th, 2021, or any other time,” the Washington Post reported.
Oddly, Tarrio — who is Cuban American — seems to have had something of a secret life cooperating with authorities. He was outed during a court hearing as a police informant who helped in the prosecution of more than a dozen people in cases involving drugs, gambling and human smuggling.
And yet there Tarrio was last week, with a group of Cuban exiles in front of the Versailles Restaurant, a bullhorn emblazoned with bumper stickers from Infowars.com tucked under his arm and a grin on his face as he led “Cuba libre” chants.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified the Proud Boys a hate group, based on the group’s views and its appearances with other far-right groups. Hate groups have no place here and especially at a demonstration in support of the Cuban cause. Whether or not Tarrio goes to jail, Miami can’t let the next Cuba rally turn into a safe haven for hate to flourish.