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U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that five defendants have been arrested and charged federally in four separate complaints in connection with violent protests held on May 30, 2020, in both the City of Rochester and the City of Buffalo.
In Rochester, four individuals have been charged for their roles in connection with the burning of three government vehicles and a private mobile construction trailer office during violent protests held in the late-afternoon/early-evening hours of Saturday, May 30, 2020, in the Rochester.
In Buffalo, a fifth individual was arrested this morning and charged with assaulting a federal officer during a violent protest held that same evening, outside of the Robert H. Jackson Federal Courthouse on Niagara Square.
The individuals charged include the following:
- DYSHIKA MCFADDEN, 26, and MIGUEL RAMOS, 19, both of Rochester, NY, are charged with conspiracy to commit arson and arson, for their alleged role in burning RPD Patrol Car which was parked in front of the Public Safety Building at 185 Exchange Boulevard, in Rochester;
- MACKENZIE DRECHSLER, 19, of Ontario, NY, is charged with arson of a vehicle used in interstate commerce, for her alleged role in burning two (2) vehicles, one belonging to the New York State Attorney General’s Office and another Belonging to the City of Rochester Family Crisis Intervention Team (FACIT), both of which were parked in the vicinity of 144 Exchange Boulevard, in Rochester;
- MARQUIS FRASIER, 27, of Rochester, NY, is also charged with arson of a building vehicle and property, for his alleged role in using a Molotov Cocktail to help burn down a 32-foot by 8-foot mobile construction trailer and its contents, which was being rented by an out-of-state construction company and which parked in the lot at the corner of Exchange Boulevard and Court Street, in Rochester; and
- KEYONDRE ROBINSON, 18, of Buffalo, NY, has been charged with assault of a federal officer, for his alleged role in throwing a bottle that struck a Deputy United States Marshal in the face during protests outside of the federal courthouse in Buffalo on May 30, 2020.
In the event of conviction, McFADDEN, RAMOS, DRESCHSLER, and FRASIER each face a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of five years, a maximum of 20 years, and a $250,000 fine. ROBINSON faces a maximum possible sentence of a term of imprisonment of 8 years, and a $250,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Cassie M. Kocher, who is handling the Rochester cases, stated that on May 30, 2020, Rochester Police Department (RPD) officers were assigned to assist with crowd control during protests scheduled at the Public Safety Building (PSB) on Exchange Boulevard. The protests were in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. During the late-afternoon/early-evening, the protests turned violent, resulting in vandalism, damaged property, looting, and fires.
At approximately 5:05 p.m., McFADDEN and RAMOS, using aerosol cans and an open flame, allegedly set fire to and rendered as a total loss RPD CAR 463 that was parked in the loop in front of the public safety building.
At approximately 5:57 p.m., DRESCHLER allegedly set fire to an official vehicle owned by the New York State Attorney General’s Office, after crouching down, placing cardboard inside the vehicle and then walking away. Approximately one minute later, smoke began billowing from the car, and as the fire grew, the car became engulfed in flames. Roughly 20 minutes later, at 6:18 p.m., DRESCHLER and another male were observed setting fire to the overturned FACIT car which was located nearby. Both vehicles were total losses.
At approximately 6:28 p.m., a 32-foot by 8-foot mobile office, rented by the Michels Corporation of Wisconsin, was set on fire. It was located in the parking lot at the corner of Court Street and Exchange Boulevard. The mobile office contained work equipment, tools, a printer, camera, and wi-fi device. Facebook Live video footage posted by various users allegedly shows FRASIER, holding a Molotov cocktail, walking up the steps of the mobile office, throwing the Molotov cocktail inside, and immediately running down the steps. The mobile office was a total loss.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan P. Cantil, who is handling the case in Buffalo, stated that on May 30, 2020, members of the United States Marshals Service (USMS), Homeland Security Investigation (HSI), Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE), Federal Protective Services (FPS), New York State Police (NYSP), Amherst Police Department, and Buffalo Police Department (BPD) were assisting with crowd control during similar protests in the City of Buffalo. As in Rochester, the protests in Buffalo turned violent during the late-afternoon/early-evening. Because some of the protesters were behaving aggressively and violently, law enforcement officers were positioned shoulder-to-shoulder along the courthouse steps along the Southeast Corner of the Robert H. Jackson Federal Courthouse on Niagara Square, as part of an effort to protect the Courthouse. At approximately 6:45 p.m., a Deputy U.S. Marshal who was standing guard on the courthouse steps was struck in the face by a bottle allegedly thrown by defendant ROBINSON.
“The arsons and assault with which these defendants have been charged are not part of any sort of righteous crusade; they are—plain and simple—criminal acts,” stated U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “This sort of behavior, combined with dramatic increase in violent crime and shootings across both our Nation and our District, suggests that some members of our society believe that division and violence provide an acceptable path forward from the current state of civil unrest. They, however, are wrong. Instead, in choosing our path forward let us draw on the wisdom of one of Rochester’s greatest residents, Fredrick Douglass. In the twilight of his life, the emancipated slave, who went on to become an American social reformer, abolitionist, and orator stated: ‘My cause, first, midst, last, and always was and is that of the black man; not because he is black, but because he is a man.’ Douglass’s words resonate loudly today as a reminder that as Americans it is our obligation, in charting a path forward, to focus not on that which divides us, but rather on than that which unites us. As Douglass correctly recognized, as Americans, our identity is not derived from any personal characteristic over which none of us have any control. Rather, our identity as Americans comes from our shared humanity, the values and ideals we choose to uphold, and the obstacles we have overcome. Only by uniting and coming together as one can we achieve the full promise of those values and ideals—so eloquently expressed in the Declaration of Independence—which we celebrated just a few days ago —of a people who are all ‘created equal, [and] endowed by [our] Creator with certain unalienable rights, [including] life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ The lawless conduct and wanton destruction and violence charged in the complaints announced today—and the apparent increase in violence across our country and our community—threatens the lives, the liberty, and the happiness of all Americans. For that reason, my Office, together with our partners in law enforcement, will continue to do all that we can to deliver a healthy prescription of law and order to those—like these defendants—who seem more interested in spreading the decidedly un-American diseases of lawlessness, chaos, and division across these United States of America.”
The complaints are the result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge John B. Devito, New York Field Division; the Rochester Police Department, under the direction of Chief La’Ron Singletary; the Gates Police Department, under the direction of Chief James VanBrederode; the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff Todd Baxter; the New York State Police, under the direction of Major Eric Laughton; the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Stephen Belongia; the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office, under the direction of District Attorney Sandra Doorley; the Greater Rochester Area Narcotics Enforcement Team; the Rochester Fire Department, under the direction of Fire Chief Willie Jackson; and the United States Marshal’s Service, under the direction of United States Marshal Charles Salina.
The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.