An Indiana man was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison on Tuesday for attempting to kill Portland police officers with homemade explosive devices during the violent riots of 2020.
Malik Fard Muhammad, 25, was sentenced to prison for "repeatedly and intentionally jeopardizing the lives of police officers, destroying public property, and encouraging others to commit violence during protests that occurred in Portland in 2020," according to the Department of Justice.
According to court documents, Muhammad was charged with possession of unregistered destructive devices, engaging in civil disorder, obstructing law enforcement and using explosives to commit a federal felony. He pleaded guilty to 14 felony charges in March.
Muhammed will also be under three years of supervised release following his 10-year sentence in federal prison.
Scott Erik Asphaug, US Attorney for the District of Oregon, praised the sentencing and said that holding Muhammed accountable is imperative to their "ongoing effort to support the rights of all Oregonians."
FBI Portland Special Agent in Charge Kieran Ramsey said "Malik Fard Muhammad intentionally planned and committed acts of violence that threatened other protestors, members of the public, and law enforcement officers. This type of violence has no place in our community."
"The FBI is committed to apprehending and charging violent instigators who plan, promote, and commit acts of violence and destruction. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to protect the peaceful expression of free speech throughout Oregon," Ramsey added.
ATF Seattle Field Division Special Agent in Charge Jonathan T. McPherson said, "The right to protest peacefully is absolute."
"But it is clear Mr. Muhammad didn't come to exercise his rights. He came from out-of-state to bring violence to our community. This sentence should send a clear message to those who want to engage in violence that it will not be tolerated, and ATF will investigate these acts whenever they occur," McPherson remarked.
Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell expressed gratitude that Muhammed will remain behind bars and that none of his officers were killed by his heinous attacks.
"The risk of a law enforcement officer or community member being seriously hurt or killed by the actions of this individual was very real," Chief Chuck Lovell said. "I'm gratified to know that he is being held accountable for the danger his criminal actions caused. I want to extend my sincere thanks to the investigators and prosecutors whose diligent, meticulous work made this sentence possible, as well as the members of PPB and other agencies who put themselves at risk to protect our city against violence and destruction during this period of time."
According to court documents, on September 5, 2020, during a large civil disturbance in east Portland, demonstrators threw dangerous objects at police, including commercial grade fireworks, Molotov cocktails, and bottles. Muhammad later pleaded guilty in Multnomah County Circuit Court to seriously burning a demonstrator by throwing a Molotov cocktail and providing baseball bats to members of the crowd.
On September 21, 2020, during a large demonstration near the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office Penumbra Kelly Building, law enforcement observed an individual light on fire and throw an object toward the building. One officer observed the burning object flying through the air toward his vehicle, landing approximately 15 feet from a police sound truck. Officers recovered the unexploded device. It consisted of a yellow glass growler with a Goodwill sticker on the bottom, a cloth wick, and an ignitable liquid. It was later determined that the growler was one of the items purchased at Goodwill by Muhammad and his girlfriend. A DNA analysis also linked the growler to Muhammad.
On September 23, 2020, protesters set fire to and broke windows at the Multnomah County Justice Center. When officers advanced toward the crowd, an individual threw a Molotov cocktail in a large yellow growler that landed in front of the officers, shattered, and exploded into a large fireball. While some officers were able to move out of the way, one officer’s leg caught fire. Several videos obtained by law enforcement show Muhammad throwing the explosive device.
On October 11, 2020, police were monitoring a protest involving approximately 250 people in downtown Portland. Members of the group began heavily vandalizing various buildings and parks including the Oregon Historical Society, Portland State University, a Starbucks coffee shop, and a Bank of America branch, among others. Law enforcement observed Muhammad in the crowed dressed in black. Portland Police officers reported observing Muhammad using a metal baton to smash the windows of several buildings and arrested him after a short chase. Muhammad possessed a loaded handgun magazine in his pocket. A loaded handgun matching the magazine found on Muhammad's person was found discarded near the location of his arrest.
On May 28, 2021, Muhammad was charged by criminal complaint with possession of unregistered destructive devices, engaging in civil disorder and obstructing law enforcement, and using explosives to commit a felony. Later, on June 15, 2021, a federal grand jury in Portland indicted Muhammad on the same charges. On May 28, 2022, he pleaded guilty to two counts of possessing unregistered destructive devices.
Muhammed will serve his sentence in Oregon State Prison.