Violence, Destruction Mar Seattle Protests Over the Death of George Floyd

Protesters meet police during marches in Seattle in late May.

Federal prosecutors have charged a 24-year-old Everett man with possession of an assault-style rifle belonging to a Seattle police officer whose vehicle was torched during Black Lives Matter protests downtown May 30.

Criminal charges filed in U.S. District Court allege Jacob D. Little is the masked and black-clad man photographed reaching into the back of a burned-out police patrol vehicle and removing a case containing the M-4 rifle, which was fitted with a suppressor and a red-dot sighting system.

The rifle was one of five firearms stolen from police vehicles that afternoon near Sixth Avenue and Pine Street after protests turned violent. Five police cars were vandalized and burned.

Three of the stolen guns have been recovered, according to the complaint. Two, including the loaded M4 rifle allegedly taken by Little, remain missing. The charges allege agents recovered electronic messages indicating Little was trying to sell the rifle.

He faces a single count of possession of a stolen firearm, a crime punishable by up to 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.

The protests were among the largest the city has seen and were in response to outrage over the May 25 death of George Floyd, who died while handcuffed with an officer's knee on his neck in a Minneapolis. Protests over systemic racism and police violence have rocked the country since, and resulted in repeated clashes between Seattle police and crowds, mostly downtown and on Capitol Hill, in the ensuing weeks.

The charges said Seattle police, with the help of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, used images captured by Seattle Police Department photographers and a tip from the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office to identify Little.

He is not among the five people allegedly connected to the gun thefts whose identities are being sought by Seattle police through subpoenas of video taken that afternoon by news photographers and other journalists. The legality of those subpoenas is being challenged by a consortium of local media outlets, including The Seattle Times.

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