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Press Release

Chicago Man Charged in Federal Court With Inciting Rioting Last Summer

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Illinois

CHICAGO — A Chicago man has been charged in federal court with inciting rioting involving multiple incidents of property damage and looting in the city last summer.

JAMES MASSEY, 22, is charged with one count of using a facility of interstate commerce to incite a riot.  According to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, Massey on Aug. 9, 2020, posted multiple videos and messages on Facebook calling for people to travel to downtown Chicago to engage in property damage and looting, the complaint states.  In the early morning hours of Aug. 10, 2020, numerous individuals damaged and looted retail stores, predominantly in downtown Chicago and the city’s Near North Side.

Massey was arrested this morning on the federal charge.  He made an initial court appearance this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sunil R. Harjani and was ordered released on bond with electronic monitoring and subject to a curfew.  A preliminary hearing was scheduled for March 18, 2021, at 1:30 p.m.

The complaint was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI; and David Brown, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department.  The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jordan Matthews and Sheri L. Wong.

The investigation was jointly conducted by the Chicago Police Department and FBI.

According to the complaint, Massey sent Facebook messages to numerous individuals directing them to meet at a certain location in Chicago to travel together to the downtown area.  Several people responded to the messages throughout the night to discuss, among other things, the location of property damage and looting activity, the complaint states.  In one of the messages, a Facebook user allegedly stated to others in the group, “We like 13 cars deep.”

One of the locations discussed in the Facebook messages was a marijuana dispensary in the 900 block of West Weed Street on the Near North Side of Chicago.  At approximately 1:00 a.m. on Aug. 10, 2020, several individuals broke into the dispensary by smashing a window with tools they had retrieved from the trunk of Massey’s vehicle, which was parked in the dispensary’s parking lot, the complaint states.

Another incident cited in the complaint occurred at a retail store in the 800 block of North Michigan Avenue in Chicago.  At approximately 1:25 a.m. on August 10, 2020, Massey approached the store with a tire iron while another individual broke a store window, the complaint states.  Massey and several others entered the store, stole numerous coats, and returned to Massey’s vehicle, the complaint states.  Shortly thereafter, an individual allegedly wrote to the Facebook group, “We just hit the [partial name of retail store].”

Massey and others later looted a convenience store in the city’s South Loop neighborhood after individuals broke windows to gain entry and then broke display counters inside, the complaint states.  Shortly before 6:00 a.m., Massey and several others looted a cell phone store in the West Loop neighborhood after offenders broke the side door of the store to gain entrance, the complaint states.

The public is reminded that a complaint is not evidence of guilt.  The defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  Inciting a riot is punishable by a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison.  If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.

Updated March 2, 2021

Violent Crime