Five people have been charged with various crimes in connection with an incident in May in which a federal courthouse in Las Vegas was damaged amid protests.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Nevada, said in a Sept. 17 statement that five individuals face federal charges for causing damage to the Foley Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse on May 30. The damage to the building has been estimated at over $71,000.
“Agitators at the May 30 protest in downtown Las Vegas allegedly damaged a federal courthouse and threatened to attack a law enforcement officer,” said U.S. Attorney Trutanich in a statement. “These cases should reinforce that our office will protect lawful First Amendment activity—while also upholding the rule of law by prosecuting those who would incite and escalate violence, vandalism, and destruction.”
Court documents allege that, on the evening of May 30, a protest was held in front of the federal building in downtown Las Vegas in the wake of the police-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The demonstration, at one point, “became boisterous,” the documents say.
“Fireworks were set off, walls were spray painted with obscenities and graffiti, and small bushes were lit on fire,” the attorney’s office said.
Several people then allegedly attacked the courthouse, throwing paint on windows and using objects and kicks to strike the windows.
“According to an off-duty Federal Protective Service Protection Security Officer who was stationed inside the FFB that night, the crowd could see him inside the building and he could hear persons saying, ‘Get him!’ and ‘Get the cop!’ the attorney’s office stated.
After additional police were dispatched to the scene, the crowd was dispersed.
The attorney’s office said that Alejandro Avalos, Alexander Kostan, Reginald Lewis, Kelton K. Simon, and Jeanette R. Wallace each face charges of depredation against property of the United States.
The five suspects have all been arraigned in federal court and, if found guilty, each could face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
“The FBI’s mission is to uphold the Constitution, which includes freedom of speech and the right to assemble,” said Special Agent in Charge Rouse, in a statement. “A line was crossed in what was intended to be a peaceful protest in Las Vegas and federal property was destroyed as a result of the alleged actions of these subjects. We will continue working with our federal, state and local partners to ensure that those that destroy parts of our city are held accountable.”
U.S. Marshal Gary Schofield said in a statement that the arrests “ensure that the community continues to have unfettered access to Justice.”
The move to bring charges against those allegedly involved in damaging the courthouse come amid a broader push by the Trump administration to hold those who engage in engage in violent behavior amid protests accountable.
The tough-on-crime approach has already led to over 300 arrests on federal crimes in the protests since the death of George Floyd.