The trio are known members of an anti-government group in Austin formerly called Austin Red Guards, police officers said in court documents obtained by The Epoch Times. The group identifies itself as part of Antifa, a network of local organizations that openly espouse violence against opponents, including reporters and police officers.
Lisa Hogan, 27, Samuel Miller, 22, and Skye Elder, 23, all of Austin, were arrested after an investigation showed they were involved in damaging a Target in Capital Plaza.
Hogan was charged with riot and burglary of a building, both felonies, the Travis County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement. Hogan, who allegedly live-streamed video from the scene on Facebook and encouraged others to join in the looting, didn’t have a mask on.
She was the subject of a previous investigation, according to probable cause documents obtained by The Epoch Times. Hogan was in the past charged with bodily injury, aggravated assault, and evading arrest.
Miller was arrested on charges of criminal mischief and burglary of a building, both felonies. Officials say he destroyed surveillance cameras outside the Target. He was also previously known to police.
Elder was arrested for burglary of a building.
“The violence, threat to life, and destruction of property we have seen in Austin and other parts of the country, jeopardizes the rights and safety of all citizens, including peaceful demonstrators,” Christopher Combs, special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Antonio office, said in a statement.
Several dozen people showed up at the Target on May 31 around 5:45 p.m. and ripped off plywood that was fastened on the doors to try to protect the store from looting. Some of the group held up a sheet to try to hide what was happening, Austin Police Department officers said. After the wood was ripped off, the group broke glass and entered the store.
Police officers arrived a short time later. Both Miller and Hogan were spotted walking away from the scene. Officers found Miller in a vehicle being driven by Elder that was parked away from the store, a common method used by people conducting illegal activity and trying to avoid arrest.
The looters inflicted some $21,000 worth of damage.
“While I fully support the rights of freedom of speech and assembly, I cannot tolerate the subversion of peaceful protest by engaging in wanton destruction and theft. These arrests are important to protecting not only the property owners, but, even more importantly, the peaceful protesters whose message should be heard,” Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore said in a statement.
Austin Police Chief Brian Manley added: “These acts of vandalism and looting will not be tolerated. We appreciate the partnership with our local and federal partners in apprehending these suspects and bringing them to justice.”
The investigation involved the Austin Police Department, the FBI, and the district attorney’s office. The probe is ongoing.
Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McGraw told reporters last week that the looting of the Target was organized by “an Antifa web page.” Surveillance of where law enforcement officers were staged was done over Antifa accounts, he added.
Antifa, which has for years fomented chaos at protests in various parts of the country, is among the groups exploiting peaceful protests to try to usher in a revolution.
“We are talking about violent extremists. There’s anarchists. There’s Antifa, but there are also criminals that are using this as an opportunity to exploit and to loot and hurt others,” McGraw said.
Attorney General William Barr said in May that violent radical groups were exploiting legitimate and peaceful protests to pursue extremist agendas, specifically naming Antifa.
Men part of the so-called boogaloo movement, which includes people willing to commit violence, have also been arrested for trying to exploit the protests.