Five Georgia men receive federal prison sentences in arson case related to 2020 Floyd riots

Angry protests and destructive riots engulfed cities across the nation in the summer of 2020 following the murder by police of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and since then, it seems very few criminal rioters have been held accountable for their actions.

That isn’t the case for five men in Georgia, however, as they all were just sentenced to more than a year in federal prison for the targeted burning of a marked police cruiser during a protest in the city of Gainesville, Fox News reported.

The cruiser had been parked outside of an apartment complex where the Gainesville officer lived and, according to prosecutors, the five men had conspired together to target that specific vehicle and set it ablaze with a flare fired through a broken back window.

Those five men, all from Hall County and all charged with conspiracy to commit arson, were identified as Judah Coleman Bailey, 21, Dashun Martin, 24, Jesse James Smallwood, 22, Bruce Anthony Thompson, 23, and Delveccho Waller Jr., 23.

Conspiracy to commit arson

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, in addition to their sentences of more than one year in federal prison, all five men will also be subjected to three years of supervised release and must pay $3,600 each in restitution to the Gainesville Police Department.

As for the actual time behind bars for each man, a sentence of one year and nine months was handed down for Bailey, Smallwood, and Waller Jr., while Martin received a one-year and five months sentence, and Thompson was given a one-year and two months sentence.

AJC noted that, according to prosecutors, the five men had met together at a nearby pharmacy and plotted their attack on the police cruiser that was known to be parked outside the apartment complex. Bailey had brought the flare gun with him and Smallwood drove everybody to the scene of the crime.

The men had all donned masks to cover their faces while carrying out the targeted arson attack but, thanks to tips from eyewitnesses, were all apprehended shortly after the incident had occurred.

Not peaceful protesters

“The defendants sought out and intentionally destroyed a police vehicle using the cover of legitimate peaceful protest,” U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine said, according to Fox5 Atlanta. “The criminal conduct of these defendants showed a reckless disregard for the safety of others.”

“We want our community to know we stand with them during their rights to peacefully protest,” Gainesville Police Chief Jay Parrish said. “However, these defendants did not peacefully protest, rather, they took this opportunity to target one of our officers at his residence. This type of violence and destruction will not be tolerated in our community.”

A similar message was delivered by Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta, who said, “We are not focused on peaceful protests, but instead concentrating on identifying, investigating and disrupting those individuals who are taking advantage of the protests to incite violence and engage in criminal activity.”

These five convictions and sentences are certainly welcome and, some would argue, long overdue, but they are also just a drop in the bucket in relation to the widespread criminal activity that occurred during protests and riots last year that have still not been adequately accounted for.

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