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Charleston man sentenced to federal prison in May 2020 downtown riot

Published: Jul. 8, 2021 at 3:01 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 8, 2021 at 4:23 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A 26-year-old Charleston was sentenced to federal prison after he pleaded guilty to civil disorders related to a riot in downtown Charleston last May.

A judge sentenced Abraham Jenkins to 18 months in federal prison in connection with a riot that followed a day of peaceful protests on May 30, 2020, according to acting U.S. Attorney Rhett DeHart. The protests and that evening’s riot happened just five days after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Jenkins 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 on May 30 and 31, 2020, DeHart said.

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.

Evidence presented in court showed that Jenkins stood on top of a Town of Mount Pleasant Police...
Evidence presented in court showed that Jenkins stood on top of a Town of Mount Pleasant Police vehicle, damaging it.(Live 5)

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, DeHart said.

“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.”

“The Charleston Police Department applauds the successful resolution of this criminal case and the support the displayed by the United States Attorney’s Office regarding this incident,” Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds said. “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. 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.”

After Jenkins serves his prison sentence, he will be required to undergo 36 months of supervised release.

There is no parole in the federal system.

The case was investigated by the FBI, ATF, Charleston Police Department, and South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. Numerous other local police departments and Solicitors’ Offices across the states have also assisted in the investigations of civil unrest in May 2020.

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