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5 charged with damaging federal buildings during BLM protest

Updated September 17, 2020 - 6:35 pm

Federal prosecutors announced on Thursday that five people have been charged with defacing the Foley Federal Building and the Lloyd George U.S. Courthouse during a Black Lives Matter protest this spring.

“Agitators at the May 30 protest in downtown Las Vegas allegedly damaged a federal courthouse and threatened to attack a law enforcement officer,” Nevada U.S. Attorney Nicholas Trutanich said in a news release. “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.”

The defendants, all from Las Vegas, were identified as Alejandro Avalos, 28, Alexander Kostan, 21, Reginald Lewis,19, Kelton K. Simon, 34, and Jeanette R. Wallace, 24. Each were charged in separate criminal complaints with one count of depredation against property of the United States.

Of the allegations, FBI Special Agent in Charge Aaron Rouse said: “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.”

Prosecutors said in court papers that fireworks were set off, while some of the defendants spray-painted walls with obscenities and graffiti, and small bushes were set on fire.

Several people, prosecutors said, threw paint on windows, and kicked and struck the windows with objects.

According to the news release, an off-duty Federal Protective Service security officer stationed inside the federal building reported hearing people in the crowd chant “Get him!” and “Get the cop!”

Damage was estimated at about $71,000.

That same night, Jorge Gomez, 25, was shot 19 times by police and killed outside the U.S. courthouse. His family has filed a federal lawsuit against the Metropolitan Police Department.

Prosecutors provided screenshots of surveillance captured during the protest that showed damage to the federal buildings.

More than a dozen surveillance cameras were active around the courthouse when Gomez was shot. But Gomez’s family has said they had only been provided an edited clip from one video.

In July, federal prosecutors also charged a Reno man with destruction of federal property, alleging that he threw a cigarette butt receptacle through the first-floor windows of the city’s federal courthouse during a melee that followed a May 30 Black Lives Matter march.

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.

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