Authorities sentenced a Washington man to 40 months in prison on Wednesday for his role in a plot to burn down the Seattle Police Officers Guild building during the Black Lives Matter riots in September 2020.
Justin Christopher Moore, 35, of Renton, created and carried a box of 12 Molotov cocktails during a protest march of over 1,000 people toward the police building in downtown Seattle on Labor Day 2020, according to court documents.
“Moore’s offense was extremely dangerous and created a substantial risk of injury to numerous bystanders,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Greenberg for the Western District of Washington said in a news release.
Police reportedly smelled gasoline and became increasingly concerned about the intentions of the so-called protestors. After reviewing nearby video surveillance footage and recorded video from other protests, police identified Moore as the person seen carrying the box of explosives, according to the Justice Department. Nearly a year later, police executed a search warrant in June 2021 at Moore’s home and confiscated numerous items to produce the explosive devices and the clothing Moore was wearing while carrying the Molotov cocktails.
In the weeks after George Floyd’s death in May 2020, cities nationwide descended into chaos after Black Lives Matter protesters and rioters flooded the streets, looted and vandalized private property and businesses across the city.
The riots sparked months of civil unrest, resulting in 25 additional deaths and billions of dollars of property damage in cities nationwide.
Local media reported that Seattle police arrested 22 individuals on Labor Day for arson, assault, obstruction, and failure to disperse after a large crowd marched from the International District to the Seattle Police Officers Guild building in SODO.
Police reportedly said they arrested a number of rioters outside the police union building after throwing rocks, bottles, and homemade explosive devices at police and refusing to leave.
The Seattle Times reported several interactions that day between police and rioters, including one person who deployed a fire extinguisher. Other instances included officers pushing their bikes toward the crowd and using pepper spray and flash-bang grenades.
Last summer, Seattle law enforcement reported it lost more than 400 officers while crime surged to its highest level in two decades after city officials voted to defund some police services following the George Floyd riots in 2020.
The department had approximately 1,300 officers patrolling the city right before Black Lives Matter reimagined policing in America. But over the last three years, residents have felt the effects of the BLM narrative, with the number of officers dwindling to just shy of 950.
The staff shortage has limited the number of calls to only life-threatening emergencies, serious crimes in progress, and other circumstances, while limiting their efforts to address “low-priority” calls and conduct follow-up investigations for high-priority calls.