Eugene Police Department announced it arrested nine adults and two minors on Wednesday, Aug. 5 for alleged crimes on May 29 that police now call a riot. Word of EPD coming to people’s homes and bringing them into police headquarters had swirled on social media all day.
After the May 25 police killing of George Floyd, Black Lives Matter-related protests erupted across the country. On May 29 in Eugene, protesters gathered downtown on 7th Avenue to express their outrage when a small number of these protesters began to light trash bins on fire and break into nearby stores and restaurants like T-Mobile, Starbucks, Jimmy Johns and Five Guys.
Arrests were made beginning around 10 am Wednesday morning. EPD detectives say they looked through hundreds of hours of surveillance footage and social media posts to identify individuals that participated in the riot, according to an EPD news release.
Word of these arrests began spreading on social media when Clea Ibrahim, a leader of the anti-racism protest group Black Unity, posted about one such arrest on her Facebook.
She said that her friend, Chantelle Amador had been called by EPD and asked to come in to exchange insurance information because her car had been hit but when she arrived, a detective was waiting to arrest her. Ibrahim said in the post that her bail was then set at $200,000 and she was charged with two counts of felony riot. Shortly after, members of the BU Facebook page began posting that EPD was “rounding up” local protesters.
Eugene Weekly was able to confirm by 3 pm that 9 individuals were arrested for riot charges using the Lane County Sheriff’s Office’s inmate search and reached out to EPD for comment. The police sent out a news release at 5:13 pm and posted it on Facebook.
The Civil Liberties Defense Center in Eugene has a guide for activists on how to assert their rights if confronted by police. According to CLDC’s materials, individuals do not have to allow police inside their homes unless presented with a warrant. If a warrant has been awarded to the officers by a court, individuals still retain the right to request a lawyer before speaking.
Each individual was charged with a felony riot charge. If convicted, the nine adults could face up to five years in prison. They are currently held at the Lane County Jail.
Oregon law says a person commits the crime of riot if they, along with five or more other people, participate in “violent conduct” that intentionally or recklessly causes “public alarm.” ”
Most of the individuals are also charged with some combination of burglary, theft and/or a number of misdemeanors like disorderly conduct. Each of these charges carries its own punishment — burglary, or theft with a burglary tool, can be punished with up to 20 years in prison.
EPD added that the investigation into events on May 29 “is ongoing and additional arrests are anticipated.”
Members of the BU Facebook page are urging people to call the CLDC at 541-687-9180 if there are any future arrests and to “stay with a friend unassociated with protesters.”
Reached for comment, Tyshawn Ford, a BU leader, said EPD is setting bail at outstanding amounts, and that the police don’t plan on stopping these arrests anytime soon. Ford himself was wrestled to the ground and arrested by Springfield police July 29 as BU marched in protest of a noose hanging in a Thurston neighborhood yard.