Another participant in the violent riots that rocked downtown Charleston, South Carolina last spring has been sentenced to a year-and-a-half in federal prison, according to a news release issued Thursday afternoon from the U.S. attorney’s office.
Abraham Jenkins, 26, of Charleston, S.C. pleaded guilty to civil disorders related to the “violence and destruction in downtown Charleston” on May 30-31, 2020, according to the release. He is the second of six defendants to be sentenced on federal charges stemming from “participation of actions including arson, inciting riots, and other civil disorder in Columbia and Charleston.”
The Charleston riots – which featured the widespread destruction of storefronts, the looting of private property and the burning of businesses – was part of a nationwide spasm of violence that occurred in response to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota last Memorial Day.
To its credit, the U.S. attorney’s office in South Carolina – first under Peter McCoy and more recently under acting U.S. attorney Rhett DeHart – moved aggressively to prosecute individuals implicated in connection with this violence.
Others? Not so much …
“The United States attorney’s office will always protect the First Amendment rights of South Carolinians,” DeHart said in a statement accompanying the news of Jenkins’ sentencing. “However, when peaceful protests turn into violence and destruction, the violent agitators committing crimes will be brought to justice.”
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According to the release, “evidence presented in court showed that Jenkins stood on top of a town of Mount Pleasant police vehicle, damaging it; sprayed a fire extinguisher at police officers who were patrolling Charleston on two separate occasions; and threw a water bottle at a patrolling officer.”
Jenkins also “took a burning t-shirt and threw it through a broken back window of a Charleston police cruiser, causing damage to the cruiser,” the release stated.
Federal investigators praised the announcement of Jenkins’ sentencing – which was imposed by U.S. district court judge Richard Gergel.
“To protect our right to peacefully protest, the FBI will continue to investigate individuals that engage in criminal conduct that causes personal injury and property destruction as part of a riot,” special agent in charge Susan Ferensic said in a statement. “We are grateful for the work done by the ATF, Charleston police department and South Carolina Law Enforcement Division that helped bring this offender to justice.”
After serving his eighteen months in the federal prison system – where there is no parole – Jenkins will spend the next 36 months under “supervised release.”
Jenkins’ case was prosecuted by assistant U.S. attorneys Emily Limehouse and Nathan Williams.
Charleston was the epicenter of the rioting in the Palmetto State in the aftermath of Floyd’s death – and the initial response of its municipal leaders to the outbreak of lawlessness was underwhelming to say the least. Things got so bad in the Holy City at one point that South Carolina governor Henry McMaster was forced to mobilize the National Guard in response to the situation.
Meanwhile, assets of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and other state and neighboring local agencies – including the North Charleston police department – had to be engaged in order to regain control of the city’s historic center.
My news outlet consistently condemned the violence that rocked Charleston … and other cities across the country.
“What happened to Floyd in Minneapolis was truly unconscionable – and the rage fueling the protests that have flowed from it is clearly justified,” I noted at the time. “Having said that, the rash of arson, theft, vandalism and violent physical attacks being perpetrated in the name of ‘justice’ for Floyd is utterly inexcusable.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina and before that he was a bass player and a dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats (including the above-pictured Carolina Mudcats’ lid).
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