Four men have been indicted by a grand jury for their alleged roles in burning the Minneapolis Police Third Precinct station on May 28, marking progress in efforts to punish those who escalated George Floyd protests into riots.
Indictments were issued against Dylan Shakespeare Robinson, 22; Davon De-Andre Turner, 24; Bryce Michael Williams, 26; and Branden Michael Wolfe, 23, US Attorney Erica MacDonald announced on Tuesday. All four men are from Minnesota, and each is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit arson.
The incident occurred three days after Floyd died in police custody. Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Third Precinct headquarters in south Minneapolis, at one point chanting “Burn it down, burn it down.” Police chose to abandon the building and flee for their own safety as rioters tore down a perimeter fence and breached an entrance.
Police flee. Chaos utter chaos. Terrifying moment, thought I’d be hit pic.twitter.com/C6Bl82ddFJ
According to prosecutors, Robinson lit an incendiary advice that an unidentified co-conspirator threw at the building. Williams, Turner and another person lit a Molotov cocktail, which Turner took into the precinct and used to start a fire. Wolfe pushed a barrel into a fire at the building entrance to accelerate an existing blaze.
The precinct fire was part of a wave of destruction that occurred as violent protests gripped the adjoining cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. The riots marked the second-most destructive incident of civil unrest in US history, behind only the Los Angeles riots of 1992.
The third precinct and Minnehaha Lake Wine & Spirits in Minneapolis are now on fire. pic.twitter.com/UlM1U6ZkO8
Although criminal conduct was widespread and occurred in cities nationwide as Black Lives Matter protests broke out across the country, relatively few people have been held accountable. The list is growing, though; for instance, MacDonald’s office was able to charge a Chicago man who allegedly traveled to Minneapolis to participate in rioting and looting because he posted his exploits on social media.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms said last month that it had arrested 13 individuals who allegedly set fires in Minneapolis-St. Paul. The bureau was investigating more than 150 fires.
Robinson and Wolfe were previously charged in a federal criminal complaint with aiding and abetting arson, while Williams had been charged with conspiracy to commit arson. The grand jury indictments linked their cases and set the stage for their prosecutions to go forward to trial.
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