Man sentenced to 15 months for incitement to riot in downtown Chicago
CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago man who posted online urging others to join massive mobs looting downtown businesses in the summer of 2020 was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison on Tuesday.
James Massy, 23, pleaded guilty in February incitement and participation in a riot. He admitted in a plea deal with prosecutors that he posted multiple videos and Facebook posts calling on people to come to downtown Chicago to engage in property damage and looting.
Massey was later captured on surveillance video helping to loot and destroy four businesses, including a cellphone store and a marijuana dispensary, the Chicago Grandstand reported.
U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly denied a defense probation request, saying Massey injured legitimate protesters bringing attention to the issue of police misconduct after high-profile incidents including the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the end of May.
Massey has been held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center since August 2021, when he was arrested attempting to illegally purchase a handgun from an Indiana gun store while free on bail. With good behavior, he would be eligible for release in about five months.
Massey apologized to the court, saying the kind of behavior he engaged in that night was behind him.
Massey was arrested after an investigation revealed he posted a series of sometimes profane Facebook posts and videos on August 9, 2020, in which he urged people to take part in the widespread violence that erupted in the city that day and the next day.
After the police shot a man who opened fire on officers on the south side of town, Police Superintendent David Brown said there was a social media post urging people to form a caravan of cars and converge on the neighborhood of businessman and trader. A video circulating on Facebook, falsely claiming Chicago police fatally shot a teenager, has further heightened tensions in the city.
Massey told the others that the looting would start at 12 a.m. and that they should “bring YA TOOLS ski masks and gloves.”
Prosecutors say Massey said in a video released later, “I’m not missing anything. I am ready to fly.
After sending other messages, such as “WE LIE TOGETHER, WE DIE TOGETHER,” prosecutors said in the complaint that Massey is seen on surveillance video walking towards a store with a tire iron in his hand while another person smashed the store window. They alleged he entered a store, grabbed coats, then participated in the vandalism of a convenience store and a cell phone store.
During the riots, vandals smashed the windows of dozens of businesses and fled with clothes, ATMs and whatever else they could take. Two people were shot dead and more than a dozen police officers were injured in the riot which ended in more than 100 arrests.
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