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An Indiana man has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for playing a significant part in fueling violence during the 2020 Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests and rioting in Portland, Oregon.
Malik Fard Muhammad, 25, was sentenced on Tuesday for “repeatedly and intentionally jeopardizing the lives of police officers, destroying public property, and encouraging others to commit violence during protests that occurred in Portland in 2020,” according to the Justice Department.
In addition to 10 years in prison, Muhammad gets three years of supervised release. Although the DOJ did not mention the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests in the press release, Muhammad was arrested in 2020 following evidence collected at a BLM protest turned riot.
During the BLM demonstrations that ended in violence on Sept. 21, 2020, Muhammad threw a beer growler made into a Molotov cocktail on a police officer sitting inside his vehicle. The officer jumped out when he saw the firebomb, which did not blow, hurtling towards him.
Muhammed was arrested and charged with attempted aggravated murder, attempted assault in the first degree, attempted murder in the first degree, and unlawful manufacture of a destructive device, along with other crimes.
“Anyone who thinks they can get away with trying to murder police officers and destroy this city should think again,” Police Chief Chuck Lovell said in a statement last year announcing Muhammed’s arrest.
“Holding accountable those individuals whose sole focus is violence and destruction, like Mr. Muhammad, is central to our ongoing effort to support the rights of all Oregonians,” said Scott Erik Asphaug, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.
The district attorney’s office said that Muhammad intentionally and repeatedly jeopardized the lives of police officers, engaged in activities that destroyed public property like smashing the Oregon Historical Society’s windows, while calling on others to commit violence.
“The right to protest peacefully is absolute,” said ATF Seattle Field Division Special Agent in Charge Jonathan T. McPherson. “But it is clear Mr. Muhammad didn’t come to exercise his rights. He came from out-of-state to bring violence to our community.”
A Trip of Violence
Based on court documents, Muhammad traveled to Portland from Indianapolis with his girlfriend in the late summer of 2020 to be part of the BLM demonstrations.
Through evidence and DNA collected from riot grounds and cell phone surveillance, along with CCTV footage where Muhammad was seen purchasing bats and several “growler” bottles, law enforcement connected him to the crimes.
On Sept. 23, 2020, “protesters set fire to and broke windows at the Multnomah County Justice Center,” said the DOJ report. “When officers advanced toward the crowd, an individual threw a Molotov cocktail in a large yellow growler that landed in front of the officers, shattered, and exploded into a large fireball. While some officers were able to move out of the way, one officer’s leg caught fire. Several videos obtained by law enforcement show Muhammad throwing the explosive device.”
Muhammad was arrested on Oct. 11, 2020, after a short chase following the destruction of building windows with a group of 250 people in downtown Portland. He had on him a loaded handgun magazine during the arrest.
Muhammad later pleaded guilty in Multnomah County Circuit Court to “seriously burning a demonstrator by throwing a Molotov cocktail” and handing out baseball bats to the crowd.
Besides BLM, Muhammad was also supposedly involved with the Antifa extremist organization.
“Investigators obtained evidence that he traveled to Louisville, Kentucky, in August 2020 to meet with anti-government and anti-authority violent extremist groups to conduct firearms and tactical training,” the DOJ said.
“On May 28, 2022, Muhammad pleaded guilty to two counts of possessing unregistered destructive devices. Following the sentencing, he has forfeited a 12-gauge shotgun, an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, a second rifle, a pistol, assorted ammunition, and all seized Molotov cocktail components and ingredients.”
Muhammad will serve his sentence in the Oregon state prison.