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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Rochester Man Pleads Guilty To Rioting For His Role In Violence Associated With Civil Unrest

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

ROCHESTER, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today Javon Hardy, 24, of Buffalo, NY, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Charles J. Siragusa to rioting. The charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

“Javon Hardy is the first of 16 defendants charged in connection with violence which occurred during protests held across our District earlier this year to be convicted,” stated U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “By his plea, the defendant has admitted that his behavior was not constitutionally protected expression but criminal conduct. Lawlessness, violence, and property damage are inherently unjust and antithetical to the objectives of those well-intentioned individuals who come together seeking positive change in our community. The defendant, and those like him, who engage in these sorts of criminal acts contribute only to our crime rate and add nothing in terms of meaningful growth or progress in our community.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas E. Gregory, who is handling the case, stated that on May 30, 2020, in the City of Rochester, the defendant, along with numerous other individuals, participated in a public protest near the Public Safety Building located at 185 Exchange Street. At various times during the protest, the gathering turned violent, resulting in significant property damage and looting. 

During the course of his rioting, Hardy approached a mobile office trailer located at the corner of Court Street and Exchange Boulevard. The trailer was rented by the Penn Lyon Homes Company headquartered in the state of Wisconsin, from ModSpace, a company located in Syracuse, NY. After walking up the stairs to the trailer, the defendant threw a flammable liquid inside the trailer and started a fire. Hardy exclaimed “Let that (expletive) burn,” and “If it’s not on fire, I didn’t do my job.” The burning of the trailer and defendant’s statements were captured on Facebook Live, which streamed the burning of the trailer on the internet. Hardy also posted his own statement on Facebook Live, admitting to being at the protests in downtown Rochester. He was wearing the same clothing as he wore when he started the fire at the mobile office trailer. The mobile office trailer was completely destroyed by fire.

The plea 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, New York Field Division; the Rochester Police Department, under the direction of Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan; the Gates Police Department, under the direction of Chief James VanBrederode; the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff Todd Baxter; the New York State Police, under the direction of Major Eric Laughton; the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Stephen Belongia; the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office, under the direction of District Attorney Sandra Doorley; the Greater Rochester Area Narcotics Enforcement Team; and the Rochester Fire Department, under the direction of Fire Chief Willie Jackson.

Sentencing is scheduled for March 15, 2021, at 9:15 a.m. before Judge Siragusa.

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Topic(s): 
Violent Crime
Updated December 16, 2020