Seattle rioter gets three years in prison for using Molotov cocktails to torch police cars during 2020 riots

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SEATTLE, WA – A 21-year-old man who was involved in the riots in Seattle on May 30th of 2020 was handed down a three-year sentence in federal prison for his use of Molotov cocktails in an effort to set two police patrol vehicles on fire during the riots.

According to court records, 21-year-old Kelly Jackson used Molotov cocktails to try and set two police patrol vehicles on fire in downtown Seattle on May 30th of 2020.

Jackson was reportedly identified by authorities after investigators had received an anonymous tip implicating him in the arson attacks.

After checking Jackson’s cell phone records, authorities were able to confirm that he had been in the area when the arsons transpired during the riot.

Further investigating through the Jackson’s online endeavors, investigators found that Jackson had been researching how to craft Molotov cocktails prior to the May 30th riot.

ATF Seattle Special Agent in Charge Jonathan McPherson noted the following about Jackson’s intent when coming to the protest that turned into a riot:

“Jackson clearly planned not to come and peacefully protest, but to come and perpetrate criminal acts.

“We respect everyone’s right to free speech, but free speech does not come in the form of a Molotov cocktail. His premeditated actions and complete disregard for the safety of those around him warrant this sentence.”

Outside of evidence showcasing that Jackson had been researching the construction of Molotov cocktails, investigators also found video footage that showcased Jackson using Molotov cocktails to set one patrol vehicle on fire and attempting to set another one ablaze, that time unsuccessfully.

In a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington, the following was noted about Jackson’s actions caught on footage relating to the police vehicle he successfully set fire to:

“Other videos show Jackson throwing one Molotov cocktail into a police vehicle, then hiding himself in the crowd and jumping up and down with excitement after his crime.”

In the second video that shows Jackson’s attempt to set a second police vehicle on fire, Jackson had thrown the Molotov cocktail at the windshield of a patrol car parked outside of a Nordstrom store, but the Molotov cocktail wound up bouncing off the vehicle and burst into flames after hitting the pavement.

Aside from the blatant destruction caused by Jackson’s actions during the riot, Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa Gorman told the court that his conduct was also recklessly dangerous to those in the area during the arson attacks:

“The danger to others is captured in pictures from the scene: flames from the burning car and burning gasoline spread across the sidewalk, pollutant-filled smoke billowing into the crowd.

“This isn’t free speech — it is criminal conduct deserving of a federal prison sentence.”

Jackson was originally arrested back in September of 2020 under two counts of possession of a destructive device, where he wound up pleading guilty to his charges on January 6th of 2021.

U.S. District Court Judge James Robart said the following at the time of Jackson’s sentencing:

“The public’s right to peacefully protest has been repeatedly violated by people doing criminal things.”

The convicted arsonist was sentenced to 40 months in federal prison along with three years of supervised release once he completes his prison sentence.

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In other cases involving handed down sentences for rioters, a man in London, England was recently sentenced to no jail time for attacking police officers during a BLM protest that occurred in June of 2020. 

Here’s that previous report from earlier in March. 

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LONDON, EN – A 20-year-old who admitted to the court that he’d thrown metal barrier fencing at police officers during a BLM protest in London has avoided jail time, instead being afforded a suspended sentence and community service

According to reports, 20-year-old teaching assistant Shayden Spencer was among a group of protesters and rioters on Downing Street on June 3rd, 2020 that had turned their ire toward officers positioned in the area. 

Spencer was reportedly caught on surveillance footage hurling sections of the large, metal barrier fencing at officers – twice – during the outbreak of violence between the crowd and police. 

The footage was played before the Southwark Crown Court, which Spencer was said to have admitted to engaging in violent disorderly conduct. 

Prosecutor Tyrone Silcott addressed the court, saying the following: 

“The defendant is seen clearly to walk towards the waist-height barrier and throw a piece of barrier that had been broken up. He then returns 55 seconds later and does exactly the same thing.”

However, the prosecutor added that Spencer, “expressed his regret what he described as being in the heat of the moment. He said his actions did not ‘reflect the person I am.’”

Prosecutor Silcott carried on a seemingly sympathetic characterization of Spencer, chalking up his violent actions to getting “carried away”:

“He stated he went to the Black Lives Matters protest as part to raise a voice for racial rights in a peaceful manner. He said he never thought the protest would become violent.”

“It was the first protest he had ever attended. He admitted that he got carried away without thinking. He said he could not give a reasonable excuse why he took part in the disorder but expressed serious regrets for his actions.”

Spencer’s defense attorney, Edward McKiernan, added more to the sympathetic narrative regarding his client, saying: 

“He has a degree of empathy. He is the sort of person who could be an asset to the community. It is not a moment of madness, he was stupid with a lot of other stupid people.”

Apparently, the excusive framing provided by both the defense and the prosecution resonated with Judge Gregory Perrins. While the judge spoke ill of Spencer’s actions from June 3rd, he too latched onto the notion that Spencer got “swept away” in the moment: 

“It’s quite clear this was an extremely serious offence of public disorder.”

“Even though it began as a legitimate demonstration it ended up in violence and aggression that you willingly participated in.”

“You became swept away with events as they unfolded. You’ve shown true regret for your actions and taken full responsibility at a very early stage. It’s also been suggested a lack of maturity contributed to your actions.”

Judge Perrins delivered a 8-month suspended sentence, meaning no jail time for Spencer unless he slips up again in the next year. He was also ordered to pay a £300 fine, do 80 hours of community service, and attend a 15-day rehabilitation program.

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