Just before sentencing Malik Fard Muhammad, a federal judge on Tuesday wanted to understand what prompted the 25-year-old to throw Molotov cocktails at Portland police and smash windows during mass protests downtown of the city in 2020.
“Everyone wants to know what happened with you?” asked U.S. District Judge Marco A. Hernandez. “How did it happen?”
Muhammad, who traveled with his girlfriend from Indiana to Portland at the height of social justice protests two years ago, now stood in a blue prison gown in Hernandez’s 15th floor courtroom , next to a public defender.
“A lot of frustration with the system and not being heard,” Muhammad told the judge.
He said he led peaceful protests in his home state of Indiana and met the governor there, but “felt ignored and rejected and things just escalated to a point that I cannot take back”.
Hernandez insisted further.
“I mean, you’re a brilliant guy. … So I was just wondering what was your thought process that suddenly put you in a position where you thought it was OK, it was the right thing to do, where people might get hurt or killed? I’m having trouble understanding how you got there.
“I have problems with that too,” Muhammad replied. “I was manic at the time. I wasn’t on medication.
Deputy Federal Public Defender Fidel Cassino-DuCloux said Muhammad had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder and had been on medication since his federal arrest.
“I just regret my decisions, and if I could take them back, I would,” Muhammad told the judge. “I am here now to atone for them.”
Federal Prosecutor Adam Delph said Muhammad threw a Molotov cocktail that landed 15 feet from a police vehicle on September 5, 2020, outside the Penumbra Kelly building in southeast Portland and launched a similar device on a line of officers downtown on 23 September. 2020.
The Molotov cocktail that landed in front of a line of officers near the Downtown Justice Center created a large flame that burned Portland Police Officer Dustin Barth’s uniform and lower leg near the intersection of Southwest Second Avenue and Main Street, according to court records.
In October 2020, Muhammad smashed the windows of the Oregon Historical Society and a Portland State University building with a metal baton, supplying other rioters with baseball bats to smash the windows. downtown windows before fleeing from police with a loaded handgun, according to Delph.
He said that Muhammad had previously served in the US military.
He could have used his skills “to come to this district and be someone who could have led and dealt with issues of injustice with justice,” Delph told the court.
The 10-year sentence, handed down after plea negotiations between federal and state prosecutors and Muhammad’s defense attorney, should send a deterrent message to others, Delph said.
“If you come to this district to sow discord, commit further violence and exacerbate these issues, you will be held accountable,” Delph said.
According to his attorney, Muhammad lost the approximately $200,000 the Portland Freedom Fund paid to get him out of jail after his initial arrest on state charges.
The fund posted 10%, or $212,500, of his $2.1 million bond. He was arrested on federal charges two days later and returned to prison. The Freedom Fund is a nonprofit organization that provides “resources to incarcerated individuals awaiting trial,” according to its registration with the Oregon Secretary of State’s office.
Delph argued that Muhammad repeatedly endangered the lives of law enforcement officers, caused thousands of dollars in property damage, and encouraged others to commit acts of violence.
Prosecutors previously cited in court Muhammad’s social media posts that encouraged violence toward police in other cities, including Kenosha, Wisconsin and Chicago, saying they exposed his “anti-government violent extremist” ideology. / anti-authority”.
On a photo illustrating the events in Kenosha, Muhammad added a caption that read, “Kill cops. Pull back. We say no justice no peace, we mean NO PEACE,” according to Delph. On another, Muhammad referenced a news story about Chicago gangs forming a pact to execute cops who draw guns and wrote, “Shoot, every chance you get,” Delph wrote in a federal petition asking for the detention of Muhammad.
“It was not a one-off act during a demonstration. Muhammad came to Portland – while heavily armed – with the intention of engaging in violent activity. And that is exactly what he did,” Delph wrote in court.
In federal court, Muhammad pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of unregistered destructive devices. Federal charges of civil disorder, unlawful use of explosives and possession of a firearm were dismissed.
In state court, he pleaded guilty in March to four counts of rioting, two counts of attempted second-degree murder, four counts of criminal mischief and one count each of manufacturing a destructive device, possession of a destructive device, possession of a firearm. and second degree assault.
The sentence includes time for state and federal business. The federal civil disorder charge that was dismissed carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, and the use of explosives offense carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years that should have been consecutive to other prison sentences, Delph told the judge. With Muhammad pleading for possession of destructive devices, the negotiated settlement carries a 10-year prison sentence that runs concurrently with the state sentence of the same amount.
Prosecutors took into account Muhammad’s past military service and history of childhood abuse. Cassino-DuCloux said Muhammad saw his army lieutenant run over by a tank while training in the United States.
Under the negotiated sentence, Muhammad will serve his sentence in the Oregon State Correctional Facility. Of the 10-year prison sentence, he will receive credit for time served only for the first eight years and four months, and then he will be eligible for remission for good behavior. and other credits for time remaining in custody.
“The risk that a law enforcement officer or member of the community could be seriously injured or killed by the actions of this individual was very real,” Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said in a statement. disclosed after sentencing. “I am pleased to know that he is held accountable for the danger his criminal actions have caused. I would like to express my sincere thanks to the investigators and prosecutors whose diligent and meticulous work made this conviction possible, as well as to the members of the PPB and other agencies who have put themselves in harm’s way to protect our city from violence and destruction during this time.”
Email to [email protected]; 503-221-8212
Follow on Twitter @maxoregonian