Update (December 22, 2020): Chairman of the Proud Boys hate group, Enrique Tarrio, said he is “damn proud” of his actions after the far-right group was implicated in a potential hate crime on one of the oldest Black churches in Washington D.C.

The Proud Boys held a massive rally in Washington, D.C. on December 12, yelling and destroying property as they marched. According to The Washington Post, multiple people were stabbed during the rallies. It's not yet clear whether members of the far-right group, or the counter-protesters who came out that day, were victims or aggressors. 

The group also made a point of ripping down two “Black Lives Matter” signs and burned one of them. The sign that became subject to the act of arson belonged to Asbury United Methodist Church, which is known widely as one of the oldest Black churches in the city. 

The church has stood at the same location in Washington, D.C. since 1836, The Washington Post reported.

“Last night demonstrators who were part of the MAGA gatherings tore down our Black Lives Matter sign and literally burned it in the street. It pained me especially to see our name, Asbury, in flames. For me it was reminiscent of cross burnings,” church senior pastor Rev. Ianther M. Mills told the newspaper in a statement. 

“We are a resilient people who have trusted in God through slavery and the Underground Railroad, Jim Crow and the civil rights movement, and now as we face an apparent rise in white supremacy,” Mills added.

The actions of the Proud Boys are being investigated as a hate crime, but Tarrio has refused to apologize or even back down from promoting the incident, lauding himself and others for burning the signs. 

"I'll say it again…and I'll say it loud for the people in the back… I'M DAMN PROUD I DID IT!” Tarrio wrote on Parler, a new social media site beloved by conservatives and white supremacists. The messages were seen and shared by Newsweek. 

"In the burning of the BLM sign, I was the one who lit it on fire. I was the person that went ahead and put a lighter to it and engulfed it in flames. And I am damn proud that I did," he later said on the group’s podcast The War Boys.

He and other members of the Proud Boys have been sharing dozens of memes about the incident and have mocked the outrage of Black religious leaders. Tarrio has tried to claim that the attack was not a hate crime because Black Lives Matter “isn’t about race.”

“The crime that was committed was, yeah, OK, it was destruction of property, fine. But I wanna see if this hate crime thing is a thing…I want to see what a jury of my peers would think,” Tarrio told local news outlet WAMU.

According to Newsweek, the Metropolitan Police Department released photos of the people responsible for the sign burning and the photo did not include Tarrio. But he later shared a photo of himself with the same men that night burning a Black Lives Matter sign. 

On Twitter, Pastor William H. Lamar IV responded to the attack by tweeting in solidarity with Asbury United Methodist Church.

“We have not been distracted by signs, sounds, or fury for nearly two centuries. We worship. We liberate. We serve,” he wrote. 

According to WAMU, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine has already contacted Michael Sherwin, U.S. Attorney for the District, in order to ask him to levy hate crime charges against those involved. 

“These actions, meant to terrorize Black people, violated DC law and were hate crimes. They harmed people of color, and every person who lives and works in our city who believes in fairness, justice and racial equity,” Racine said. 

There has been outrage that more was not done to stop the rioting done by the Proud Boys and other extremist groups that night. More than 30 people were arrested that night but the crowd was allowed to spend hours vandalizing buildings and causing mayhem.

Some elected officials, and even Mills herself, said the incident was a clear example of how different the justice system was for some. 

“Sadly, we must point out that if this was a marauding group of men of color going through the city, and destroying property, they would have been followed and arrested. We are especially alarmed that this violence is not being denounced at the highest levels of our nation,” she said. 

Original (December 14, 2020): Two Black churches were targeted and several people faced serious injuries on Saturday when supporters of President Donald Trump held after a "Stop the Steal" rally in Washington, D.C. 

As Blavity previously reported, the Trump supporters gathered earlier in the day to protest against the results of the 2020 election, which they still claim to be rigged.  

The crowd, which included conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, marched from the Capitol to the Mall and back again, remaining peaceful throughout the day. In the evening, however, the group clashed with counter-protesters near Black Lives Matter Plaza, Franklin Square and other downtown spots.

The violence ended with at least eight people getting injured, including four who were stabbed and taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. According to NBC Washington, at least 33 people were arrested. Ten individuals were charged with misdemeanor assaults, while six were arrested for assaulting police and four were taken in for rioting, NPR reported. Two officers were also hospitalized after suffering moderate injuries.

Black churches were also targeted on Saturday, according to Politico. 

Asbury United Methodist Church and Metropolitan A.M.E. Church may now be the center of hate crime investigations, the outlet reported. 

Vandals allegedly tore down a Black Lives Matter banner and sign from the churches, setting the former on fire. A video captured by Daily Caller showed the disturbing act of arson involving Asbury United Methodist Church's banner. In the video, the men are heard cheering as several yell, "F**k antifa."

The hate group was also seen stealing a BLM sign from Metropolitan A.M.E. Church. 

Asbury's senior pastor said the incidents reminded him of cross burnings, an act widely affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan. 

“It pained me especially to see our name, Asbury, in flames,” the Rev. Dr. Ianther M. Mills, the senior pastor at Asbury church told Politico on Sunday. “For me, it was reminiscent of cross burnings. Seeing this act on video made me both indignant and determined to fight the evil that has reared its ugly head.”

Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser condemned the acts in a tweet. 

"DC’s faith-based organizations are at the very heart of our community, giving us hope in the face of darkness," the mayor wrote. "They embody our DC values of love and inclusivity. An attack on them is an attack on all of us."

"This weekend, we saw forces of hate seeking to use destruction and intimidation to tear us apart," she continued. "We will not let that happen, and continue to stand together strong and United to Love."

She then encouraged anyone with information to come forward. 

"The Mayor’s Office of Religious Affairs and the Metropolitan Police Department are engaging the impacted houses of worship today, and anyone with information or video in the area of the houses of worship should call 202-727-9099 or text 50411," her final tweet read. 

Multiple fights broke out in various parts of downtown on Saturday. Losing control of the situation, police fired chemical irritants at the groups. D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham made a statement in midst of the chaos, telling protesters, “We’re doing the best we can.”

Newsham later made another statement in an interview, saying a small group of people who broke up from a larger crowd seemed “intent on conflict.”

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was pardoned by Trump last month after lying to the FBI during the investigation into Russian interference, spoke at Saturday's rally.

"People ask me this all the time now, in the last couple of days certainly: On a scale of 1 to 10, who's going to be the next president of the United States? And I say 1o, Donald J. Trump! 10," Flynn said.

Multiple admirers chased Flynn after he finished speaking, saying, “We love you, General!”

Jones bashed president-elect Joe Biden while addressing the crowd.

“Joe Biden is a globalist, and Joe Biden will be removed one way or another,” the conspiracy theorist said. 

Washington D.C. is struggling to contain the coronavirus like much of the country, but many of the protesters on Saturday weren't wearing masks. Black Lives Matter protesters expressed frustration with police for allowing the maskless Trump supporters to roam freely while blocking the counterprotesters.

“They can move around however they please,” said Black Lives Matter protester Constance Young. “We’re not the ones not wearing masks and spreading COVID.”

As Blavity previously reported, another Pro-Trump rally in Washington D.C. turned violent last month after Biden won the presidential election. The protest, which started peacefully in the afternoon, erupted into chaos when a small group of Trump supporters was harassed while trying to enter the area around Black Lives Matter Plaza. One person was stabbed amid the violence and taken to a trauma center with critical injuries, while two officers also faced undisclosed injuries. Twenty people were arrested in the mayhem.