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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, June 1, 2020

Buffalo Man Charged With Arson After Throwing A Burning Basket Into Buffalo City Hall During Weekend Protests

CONTACT: Barbara Burns
PHONE: (716) 843-5817
FAX #: (716) 551-3051

BUFFALO, N.Y. – U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Courtland Renford, 20, of Buffalo, NY, was arrested and charged by criminal complaint with maliciously damaging or destroying, or attempting to damage or destroy, by means of a fire or an explosive, Buffalo City Hall, a building used in or affecting interstate commerce. The charge carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, and a maximum of 20 years.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremiah E. Lenihan, who is handling the case, stated that according to the complaint, on May 30, 2020, during a gathering of protesters in Niagara Square in Buffalo, an individual, later identified as the defendant, was captured on video approaching Buffalo City Hall, carrying a green laundry basket that contained a fire. Renford then threw the burning laundry basket into a window of Buffalo City Hall, causing a fire inside. Buffalo Fire Department personnel extinguished the fire, which destroyed and/or damaged items inside. News cameras captured the defendant throwing his hands up after he had thrown the flaming laundry basket into City Hall.

Investigators sent out an alert with Renford’s picture in an attempt to identify him. After learning his identity, Buffalo Police Officers went to the defendant’s residence where they met two females who gave consent to search the residence. Inside, Officers found Renford hiding behind clothes on the second floor. The defendant was taken into custody. Officers also recovered the distinctive Chanel face mask Renford was wearing at the time of the alleged arson.

“Having been charged by both federal and state authorities, the defendant—who, in the event of conviction, is facing a potential prison term equivalent to his age—should now have a pretty good sense of what not only the federal, state, and local law enforcement but an overwhelming majority of the community think of his conduct,” stated U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “While we will use the full authority of the government to protect peaceful and lawful protesters, we will use that same authority to seek out, apprehend, and bring to justice those engaged in lawlessness and criminality.”

The complaint is the result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge John B. Devito, and the Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Byron Lockwood.

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Attorney General William P. Barr has directed federal law enforcement actions aimed at apprehending and charging the violent criminal agitators who have taken over peaceful protests and are engaging in violations of federal law. Read the Attorney General’s statement here: https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/attorney-general-william-p-barrs-statement-riots-and-domestic-terrorism.

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Updated June 1, 2020