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July 21, 2024

Shamar Betts arrested by U. S. Marshals Service, charged with Inciting a Riot –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On June 5, 2020


Shamar Betts – the person we wrote about who appeared to be inciting riots and looting in Champaign on his Facebook posts a few hours prior to the actual riot/looting in Champaign, was arrested by the United States Marshals Service in Mississippi earlier today.

WAND-TV reported his arrest and charges of burglary by the Champaign County State’s Attorney (read it here).

His bond is set at $100,000.

A Sworn Affidavit for a Criminal Complaint has also been filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois, alleging Shamar Betts was inciting a riot in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2101, which can be viewed below as attested to by a member of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.

The Department of Justice also issued a Press Release:


Champaign, Ill., Man Arrested in Mississippi, Charged in Federal Complaint

with Using Internet to Incite Rioting in Champaign

URBANA, Ill.–U.S. Marshals Service deputies arrested a Champaign, Ill., man, Shamar N. Betts, 19, early this morning in Tchula, Miss., on a state burglary warrant issued by Champaign county. Betts has also been charged in a federal criminal complaint with using the internet to incite rioting in Champaign, Ill., on May 31 to June 1, 2020. Betts will make his initial appearance in federal court in the Southern District of Mississippi, in Jackson, on a date to be determined by the court.

“The defendant, as alleged, used the peaceful demonstrations over the death of George Floyd, as cover to plan and carry out criminal activity,” said U.S. Attorney John Milhiser. “He incited riots and damage to businesses, and as a result of good police work by the Champaign Police Department and coordination with the FBI, he will be held accountable for his actions.”

“Champaign Police is committed to supporting and protecting lawful and peaceful protests, but rioting, looting and criminal activity that puts residents, visitors and businesses at risk will not be tolerated,” said Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb. “On behalf of the entire Champaign Police Department, I’d like to thank all of the law enforcement agencies who have supported us, both during the rioting and with the investigation that followed, so those responsible may be brought to justice.”

“As afforded under the 1st Amendment of the Constitution it is the right of all Americans to gather and peacefully protest.  However, when any individual commits acts of violence in our communities under the guise of a protest, that type of activity is not a protected expression,” said Sean M. Cox, FBI Special Agent in Charge, Springfield Division. “The FBI is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to ensure those rights and our communities are protected.  I want to commend and thank the Champaign Police Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, with whom we have worked in this instance, to hold this individual accountable for his alleged actions.”

According to the affidavit filed in support of the complaint, on May 31, 2020, Champaign police officers observed a Facebook post made by Shamar Betts at 10:31 a.m. The post included the statement, “We gotta put Champaign/Urbana on the map – expletive – gone hear and fear us too. Slide let’s get busy Justice for George – expletive.” The post was accompanied by a flyer of a stock image of a burning vehicle overlaid with a date and time, “Riot @ MarketPlace Mall” 3:00 p.m., and listed items to bring, including “friends, family, posters, bricks, bookbags, etc.” The flyer also said “After the mall we hitting the whole PROSPECT & NEIL.”

Champaign Police Department officers responded to the area at approximately 2:36 p.m., when a group of approximately 50 to 75 people were reported to be gathering at the mall. The group continued to grow in size, and at approximately 3:12 p.m., the group began breaking out windows at businesses located in the mall and looting merchandise from within.

The indictment alleges that during this time period, Facebook user Shamar Betts posted a Facebook Live video in which he repeatedly states, “Look what a … just started…” and “We out here…”

Additional law enforcement resources were deployed to the Market Place Mall to respond to the riot and attempt to control the group, which continued to grow in size and began vandalizing and / or looting other businesses in the area including Gordman’s, Kohls and TJ Maxx. The group then moved to the shopping portion of N. Prospect Ave., and continued vandalizing and / or looting numerous stores including Meijer (grocery store), Best Buy, Shoe Carnival and Walmart. This activity continued throughout the night and into the early morning hours of June 1, 2020. By the end of the night, approximately 50 businesses in the area had been vandalized and / or looted.

According to the complaint affidavit, Champaign Police Department investigators subsequently identified Betts as the same individual who allegedly made the Facebook posts and appeared in video footage of the riot activity that was recorded live and also was available later online.

The Champaign Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Springfield Field Office, are conducting the investigation in coordination with the Champaign County State’s Attorney’s Office. Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugene L. Miller is representing the government in the prosecution.

If convicted for the offense of inciting a riot, the statutory penalty is up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and three years of supervised release following imprisonment.

Members of the public are reminded that a complaint is merely an accusation; the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.


Betts complaint affidavit doc #1

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  • Dave
    Posted at 20:05h, 05 June Reply


    • Greg
      Posted at 21:43h, 05 June Reply

      I meat to post “Interstate flight to avoid prosecution”

      Damn spell check!

      • t bone
        Posted at 01:17h, 07 June Reply

        Yep Greg, that’s the bottom line. He crossed state lines to video a riot and got nabbed for it. The evidence is indisputable.

  • Greg
    Posted at 21:30h, 05 June Reply

    Do people get charged with “Interest flight to avoid prosecution”anymore?
    Thats a federal offense!

  • Golden Country
    Posted at 22:46h, 05 June Reply

    Are you kidding me that an individual can be charged for causing a riot in Champaign using a face book post while sitting in Mississippi. The FBI are out of control. Remember this is the same group that lied on FISA warrants to bring down our President.

    • Jane
      Posted at 05:39h, 06 June Reply

      Apparently they are not kidding you. Was that not apparent? 😉

    • William D Huntsberger
      Posted at 06:58h, 06 June Reply

      There was a warrant issued on Monday by the Champagne County State’s Attorney’s Office for burglary in connection with the riot he allegedly incited on Facebook. It seems Mr Betts fled to Mississippi to avoid prosecution.

  • jannie
    Posted at 07:21h, 06 June Reply

    I wonder how much background checking this park district does of their employees before they are hired. The burglarly (sp) charges probably stem from the fact there was a picture that appears to show him carrying away an item not his shown in another one of Illinois Leaks stories.
    The Park District needs to look at how they’re doing background/reference checks of employees or potential employees.

    • B
      Posted at 08:07h, 06 June Reply

      You sound dumb how would they know by his background that he would start a riot

      • jmkraft
        Posted at 08:15h, 06 June Reply

        Maybe by looking at his arrest for domestic violence while he was an employee?

      • Carla
        Posted at 14:11h, 06 June Reply

        Thank you. She dumb asf.

    • Aaron
      Posted at 08:26h, 06 June Reply

      I bet the park district knows exactly who they employ.

    • Carla
      Posted at 19:45h, 06 June Reply

      Hmmm let’s be smart about this. Whose to say the young man had a criminal record before this happened. The park district definitely does a background check on all potential employees. This is his first criminal case. So quick to judge and not quick or smart enough to find facts smh.

  • John
    Posted at 17:27h, 06 June Reply

    “Maybe by looking at his arrest for domestic violence” … Unless you’re being hired for a public safety position, background checks are limited to a name check against Illinois court records (working with children is hit or miss). Federal convictions, out of state convictions, Illinois arrests without a conviction do not show. Check this out to see how this causes problems with the state (and it probably applies to Constance Wanzo).

    • PK
      Posted at 00:46h, 07 June Reply

      Perhaps not big external problems though; or maybe just not so many too small.

      Accordingly, the IDFPR employee ‘responsible’ for receiving ISP reports purportedly didn’t know the reports contained state convictions only; then did nothing to address the obvious discrepancy. The OEIG found misfaecense on the part of the IDFPR employee.

      Also, IDFPR would have incurred additional fees to obtain an ISP report inclusive of out-of-state and federal convictions. It could be this was not necessary given the subject employment candidate was already employed with another state agency. The OEIG report makes no direct attempt on that problem.

      Where’s Waldo now?

  • Prairiedog
    Posted at 16:45h, 08 June Reply

    Maybe the Folk (s) who bonded the rioters out of jail can bond him out too… might screw with the Champaign County SA you don’t screw with the G. Needs to be charged as a domestic terrorist. Nice to see that the Park district hasn’t fired him yet.

    • PK
      Posted at 19:10h, 08 June Reply

      Nice post Prairiedog! I’ve held a scene from Shawshank Redemption in mind, replaying over and again for the young man. Thank you.

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