CHARLESTON, SC – A South Carolina man will be serving 18 months behind bars in a federal prison after he entered a guilty plea for attacking police officers and damaging police property while participating in a destructive riot in May 2020 that was connected to the death of George Floyd, reports say.
Abraham Jenkins, 26, pleaded guilty to multiple actions that he undertook during a riot in Charleston’s downtown historic district, including spraying cops with a fire extinguisher, throwing a bottle of water at an officer, throwing a burning t-shirt through the broken window of a police vehicle, and damaging another police vehicle by standing on it.
In a press release issued on Thursday announcing Jenkins’ sentence, Acting U.S. Attorney M. Rhett DeHart said in a Department of Justice note that citizens have the right to peacefully protest, but when they cross the line into violence and destruction, they will pay a price.
“The United States Attorney’s Office will always protect the First Amendment rights of South Carolinians,” DeHart said. “However, when peaceful protests turn into violence and destruction, the violent agitators committing crimes will be brought to justice.”
Jenkins will serve 18 months in prison, after which he will serve an additional three years of supervised release, officials say.
The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year at the hands of police officer Derek Chauvin saw widespread protests across the country, with many turning into riots, vandalism, and looting, causing millions of dollars in damage.
In reacting to Jenkins’ sentencing, Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds said that his department will continue to track down and prosecute riot participants.
“While the Charleston Police Department will always support our citizen’s right to peaceful protest, we will never condone violent or destructive acts that endanger our citizens or damage property,” he said. “More work remains to be accomplished as we continue investigating and prosecuting those violent offenders responsible for the significant destruction of property, assault on our citizens and attack on our officers. We will not rest until justice is accomplished for all impacted by those criminal acts.”