Indianapolis Man Faces Federal Charges for Violent Conduct during Portland Riots
PORTLAND, Ore.—An Indianapolis, Indiana, man has been charged with three federal felonies after repeatedly and intentionally jeopardizing the lives of police officers, destroying public property, and encouraging others to commit violence during recent riots in Portland.
Malik Fard Muhammad, 24, has been charged by criminal complaint with possession of unregistered destructive devices, engaging in civil disorder and obstructing law enforcement, and using explosives to commit a federal felony.
According to court documents, Muhammad is alleged to have traveled to Portland with his girlfriend from their home in Indianapolis for the specific purpose of violently engaging in civil disorder during recent area riots. 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. At least one demonstrator was seriously burned by a Molotov cocktail thrown in the direction of police. Muhammad was present at this event and provided baseball bats to members of the crowd.
Following Muhammad’s arrest in October 2020, law enforcement seized his cell phone and found messages where he bragged about providing the baseball bats to other rioters. The cell phone also contained a shopping list including common ingredients and supplies used to make a Molotov cocktail. The day after the demonstration, police located a discarded baseball bat with a Goodwill price tag in the area where the event occurred. Police found the Goodwill store where the bat was purchased and obtained surveillance footage showing Muhammad and his girlfriend buying the bats and several “growler” bottles.
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. Investigators 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 pistol magazine in his pocket. A loaded pistol matching the magazine found on Muhammad’s person was found discarded near the location of his arrest.
Muhammad’s trip to Portland does not appear to be an isolated event. Investigators obtained evidence that he traveled to Louisville, Kentucky, in August 2020 to meet with anti-government and anti-authority violent extremist groups to conduct firearms and tactical training. Investigators also obtained several public social media posts by Muhammad promoting violence toward law enforcement in other cities including Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Chicago.
Muhammad made his initial appearance in federal court today before a U.S. Magistrate Judge. He was detained pending further court proceedings.
Muhammad is also under indictment in Multnomah County Circuit Court for 26 state felonies including attempted aggravated murder, first degree attempted murder, unlawfully manufacturing an explosive device, first degree criminal mischief, riot, and unlawfully possessing a firearm.
Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement.
The Portland Police Bureau, FBI, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives are investigating the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam E. Delph is prosecuting the case.
A criminal complaint is only an accusation of a crime, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.