Default Ruling Declares that Proud Boys International, LLC Has Forfeited the Lawsuit, Paving the Way for Further Legal Judgment
Washington, D.C. – The Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church achieved a significant victory in an initial phase of its lawsuit against members of the Proud Boys, a violent all-male group with ties to white nationalism, and their leader Enrique Tarrio, after a default ruling from the bench declaring that defendant Proud Boys International, LLC forfeited the case. On December 12, 2020, the Proud Boys attacked and vandalized the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, an iconic and historic Black church in Washington, D.C. because of its congregants’ support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
The lawsuit was filed by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, on behalf of the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in D.C. Superior Court seeking to hold the Proud Boys and its leadership accountable.
“Today’s ruling was a victory in favor of decency and against violent racism,” said Damon Hewitt, acting president and executive director at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The lawsuit was filed with the purpose of holding the Proud Boys and their leadership accountable for their campaign of racist violence, which they perpetrate with impunity. We will continue to move forward with this case to ensure justice is served so that the Proud Boys and similar groups are put on notice that they are not above the law.”
“The Proud Boys share the white supremacist DNA of so many groups that came before them,” said Rev. William H. Lamar, IV, Pastor, Metropolitan AME Church. “These groups sought to use physical, political, economic, social, and theological violence to intimidate our ancestors. The Proud Boys are using the same playbook. Our mothers and fathers were not intimidated then. We will not be intimidated now. We have already won because we will never stop fighting. We will always fight for the flourishing of humanity and the earth that sustains us. We declare that we will never allow the forces of death and destruction – the forces that animate the Proud Boys and their kin – to prevail.”
This lawsuit is one of only a few civil suits ever filed under the D.C. Bias and Related Crimes Act. The default ruling is not the end of the plaintiff’s efforts, but a significant step toward holding the Proud Boys accountable. The December attack was part of the Proud Boys’ months-long campaign of violence and vandalism to intimidate Black voters and their allies in an effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
“The attack on the Metropolitan AME Church is part of a historical, and growing, pattern of hate driven violence,” said Jacqueline Kutnik-Bauder, Deputy Legal Director for the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. “It is no accident that this historic church, which has for so long been a beacon for civil rights and racial justice, was targeted. It’s equally unsurprising that the Proud Boys are refusing to take any responsibility for their violent and racist actions.”
The ruling is a positive first step in the national fight against white supremacy and racially-charged attacks against Black and Brown communities.
Plaintiff’s counsel are seeking information on the unidentified Proud Boys members who joined in Tarrio’s violent campaign by attacking the Church. If you have any information about the identities of the individuals pictured below or in the video here (https://lawyerscommittee.org/proud-boys/), please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read the lawsuit here.
By Melanie Nathan
African Human Rights Coalition