A Seattle woman has been sentenced to five years in prison for torching police vehicles during a Black Lives Matter riot in 2020.
Margaret Aislinn Channon, 26, pleaded guilty to arson for using aerosol cans as a blowtorch to light the cars on fire. She also broke windows, looted stores, and smashed police equipment.
Much of Channon’s destruction was captured on video.
“According to the plea agreement, Channon appears in videos from the protest in downtown Seattle wearing distinctive clothing and showing tattoos on her hands and arms. Channon is captured on video using fire and aerosol cans to light five Seattle Police Department vehicles on fire,” the Department of Justice said in a press release. “She is also shown entering various stores and removing items of clothing. She admits smashing the window at the Verizon Store, and entering a sandwich shop and destroying the electronic cash register. Investigators identified Channon based on her clothing, tattoos, and information from her various social media accounts.”
Channon was arrested in June, 2020. Law enforcement executed a search warrant at her home in Tacoma and seized clothing and accessories that appear in some of the videos from the arsons.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, Channon is responsible for restitution.
During her sentencing, the judge criticized Channon for making the Black Lives Matter movement look bad, saying she did “tremendous damage to Black Lives Matter in Seattle.”
“The right to protest, gather, and call out injustices is one of the dearest and most important rights we enjoy in the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Brown, according to a report from the Seattle Times. “Indeed, our democracy depends on both exercising and protecting these rights. But Ms. Channon’s conduct was itself an attack on democracy.”
Brown said Channon “used the cover of lawful protests to carry out dangerous and destructive acts, risking the safety of everyone around her and undermining the important messages voiced by others.”
The prosecution had argued that Channon put everyone in danger, as one of the cars could have exploded.
“Hundreds of people were standing in the vicinity of the police cars that Channon burned, some only a few feet away,” wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Greenberg. “All of them were in harm’s way if one of the vehicles had exploded.”
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