Champaign, IL. (ECWd) -
USDOJ Press Release can be found (HERE),
According to the Complaint and Indictment:
- Betts made by Facebook post ""I'm just the messenger We're literally sitting on our ass watching the whole country and even others fight for our black rights Y'all think we don't suffer through inequality here EVERYDAY We gotta put Champaign/Urbana on the map mfs gone hear and fear us too. SLIDE let's get busy Justice for George FUCK12."
- This post was accompanied by a flyer advocating for a riot at Market Place Mall (located at 2000 N. Neil Street, Champaign, Champaign County, in the Central District of Illinois). The flyer (believed by us to be THIS one) further contained a meeting time of 3 p.m. and specific
instructions to "Bring friends & family, posters, bricks, bookbags etc.11 as well as a statement indicating "After the mall we hitting the whole PROSPECT & NEIL." These words were overlaid on a stock image of a riot including a burning vehicle.
- Officers of the Champaign Police Department responded to the area to observe the protest and respond to any acts of violence. At approximately 2:36 p.m., a group of approximately 50 to 75 people were reported gathering at the mall. The group
continued to grow in size. At approximately 3:12 p.m. the group began breaking out windows at businesses located in the mall and looting merchandise from within.
- "Shamar Betts" posted a Facebook Live video during this time stating, "Look what a nigga just started .. .look what a nigga just started. We out here ... we out here . .. we out here ... we out here. All ya'll talking that shit under my post ... we out here. Fuck that I needs that. .. we out here. " The user can also been seen carrying multiple items, to include numerous pairs of khaki pants with Old Navy tags on them. Although the user's face cannot be seen on the video, at one point his left leg and foot are visible and he can been seen wearing blue jogger-style pants and black shoes identical to those depicted in a Facebook photograph posted by "Shamar Betts" on May 31, 2020 at 1:29 p.m.
Dozens of off-duty officers were called to the riot where there were multiple assaults of officers and intense confrontations with the police by the group. 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, including multiple small businesses that were set to reopen on June 1, after being shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Further, Betts admitted that after the riot, he fled to Mississippi where he used his cell phone to conduct internet searches such as, “can police find your location by logging in messenger,” “can police track your facebook,” and “what are charges for starting a riot.”
Betts was arrested in Mississippi on June 5, 2020, by the U.S. Marshals Service Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force.
The Champaign Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Springfield Division, conducted 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.
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.
Sentencing will be on a future date, and Betts is still awaiting Hearings on his state charges in Champaign County.