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Press Release

Rochester Man Sentenced For His Role In Arson During May 2020 Violent Protests In Rochester

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of New York

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

ROCHESTER, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Shakell Sanks, 27, of Rochester, NY, who was convicted of rioting for his role in violent protests held in the City of Rochester in May 2020, was sentenced to serve five months in prison by U.S. District Judge Larimer.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Cassie M. Kocher, who handled the case, stated that on May 30, 2020, Rochester Police Department (RPD) officers were assigned to assist with crowd control during protests scheduled at the Public Safety Building (PSB) on Exchange Boulevard. During the late-afternoon/early evening, those protests, being held in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, turned violent and resulted in vandalism, damaged property, looting, and fires.

At approximately 6:00 p.m. on May 30th in downtown Rochester, Sanks assisted others in attempting to light fabric on fire. The fabric was stuffed into the gas tank of a parked car belonging to the City of Rochester Family Crisis Intervention Team (FACIT). At approximately 6:20 p.m., the FACIT car began to smoke and shortly thereafter became engulfed in flames. The car was a total loss.

The sentencing is are 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 Barry Chase; 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, under the direction of Lieutenant Robert Hill; and the Rochester Fire Department, under the direction of Fire Chief Felipe Hernandez Jr.

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Updated August 31, 2021