Time seems to have slowed down for Enrique “Henry” Tarrio.
The Miami native and former leader of the far-right Proud Boys has spent the past 128 days in a Washington, DC jail, after pleading guilty in August 2021 to burning a Black Lives Matter flag and possessing weapon magazines large capacity fire. For more than four months, Tarrio sat in a cell, at times enduring what he described as “crappy” conditions, pending his return to the South Florida political scene.
But with just days to go before his release on January 14, the former leader of the notorious hate group says his time behind bars has given him time to reflect – and to decide he no longer wants to lead the Proud Boys.
“Once I get back and organize the mess in the South Florida Proud Boys, I will take a step back from leadership. This is something I should have done before, and it It was my mistake,” Tarrio said. new times in a phone call from inside the DC prison.
Prior to his incarceration in September, Tarrio was the president and public face of the Proud Boys, an activist organization that describes itself as a men’s drinking club with “Western Chauvinist” values and frequently gets into fights with leftist protesters at political events.
Members of the Proud Boys – including a number from Florida – were involved in the January 6, 2021, uprising at the United States Capitol. Although Tarrio himself was not at the riot (due to his arrest on January 4 for the burning of the flag), the former president was pursued in his capacity as leader of the Proud Boys by a mob private parties and government entities for the events that took place that day. and is currently the subject of a subpoena from the January 6 committee of the United States House of Representatives.
He compares all the lawsuits against him to a “war of attrition”.
Because of his ties to the organization and his loyalty to its members, Tarrio says he will never leave the Proud Boys completely, but outside of the members’ day-to-day business, his life after incarceration will be focused on activism. broader policy at a local government level.
“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 us to focus on the local level,” Tarrio said, although he is intentionally vague about the details of his plan, including who he is referring to when he says “we”.
He wants to specifically target young people and women, demographics that weren’t always accessible from the confines of a supposed men’s drinking club like the Proud Boys.
Without going into specifics, Tarrio says he intends to create a new organization focused on “political activism” and organizing around right-wing causes – not much different from any of his previous ventures, Latinos for Trump, a grassroots political nonprofit where he served as State Director for Florida and later as Chief of Staff. His idea is to use the Latino experience for Trump and the connections he made with the Proud Boys to organize people in local politics, including school board meetings, city council meetings and elections. municipal.
Tarrio sees this new venture as the next step in the arc of what he calls the “MAGA movement” that began with former President Donald Trump. While the ideology of the group he wants to join leans right of center, he doesn’t describe it as strictly “Republican” or “conservative,” but rather as a collection of people who supported Trump after feeling deprived of their rights.
He wants to specifically target young people and women, demographics that weren’t always accessible from the confines of a so-called men’s drinking club.
“Moms are a very, very strong force. They account for about 80-90% of school board protesters“, says Tarrio. “I want people who want to go door to door, who want to run for office, people who think the same thing and who just want to take a sign and a megaphone and organize .”
As for the Proud Boys, Tarrio says he will remain a spokesperson for the organization if asked, though he won’t put his name up for it. Vice City, the Proud Boys chapter that Tarrio helped found and eventually turned against under new leadership, is no longer recognized by the wider Proud Boys organization, according to an official Proud Boys Telegram channel. Still, says Tarrio, he wishes good luck on this and wants to help them raise money for their Jan. 6 legal bills when it comes out.
Tarrio is expected to be released from prison this Friday, January 14, and return to Miami this weekend.