The historic Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., has been awarded a default judgment of over $1 million after suing the Proud Boys for destroying a Black Lives Matter sign. The church, which is located roughly six blocks from the White House, filed a civil suit against more than a dozen members of the white supremacist group three years ago.
Several of the organization’s members were accused of trespassing onto the church’s property by climbing a fence and then destroying the BLM banner that was zip tied to the property. The callous act reportedly took place in December 2020 amid a clash between former President Donald Trump’s supporters and detractors. The suit demanded thousands of dollars so that the church could increase its security and replace the banner.
Superior Court of the District of Columbia Judge Neal E. Kravitz ruled in the institution’s favor on Friday (June 30) when the defendants, including former leader Enrique Tarrio, failed to appear in court. “For generations, the leaders of Metropolitan AME and the members of its congregation have vocally and publicly supported movements for civil rights and racial justice,” wrote Kravitz in the ruling obtained by CNN. “Church leaders and congregants view supporting the Black Lives Matter movement as a continuation of the church’s mission of advocacy for civil rights and racial justice.”
As part of his decision, Kravitz ruled that $1 million in punitive damages would also need to be paid. The Proud Boys named in the suit are also prohibited from coming within 100 yards of the church. They are also barred from threatening Rev. William H. Lamar IV, the church’s pastor, and making defamatory remarks about him.
“We refuse to live in a nation where that kind of violence has the last word. We will never be silent,” Lamar told The New York Times on Saturday (July 1). Today (July 2), the church celebrated its 185th anniversary.
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