Feds indict 3 men accused of committing arson during Chicago summer unrest

In the immediate aftermath of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis last May, cities across America were engulfed in violent and destructive protests that often included arson and looting, and the Windy City was no exception.

Stemming from the racially charged unrest that involved radical groups such as Black Lives Matter, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has just charged three men with allegedly setting a Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) van alight on May 30, 2020, maliciously causing its destruction.

According to a DOJ press release, Denzal Stewart, 24, Lamar Taylor, 23, and Darion Lindsey, 19, each now face one count of arson over the incident in which the CTA vehicle sustained severe damage.

In June of last year, Chicago police distributed surveillance footage showing the CTA van being set on fire while parked on a traffic island located in the 300 block of South State Street.

In the video, one man was seen attempting to set a piece of cardboard alight before noticing the unattended van. He then sets fire to something inside the vehicle before an accomplice shut the doors to the vehicle.

Taylor and Stewart both pleaded not guilty following their Wednesday arrests, and detention hearings for both were scheduled for Friday morning. Lindsey was already in federal custody for an unrelated matter, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

If found guilty, the trio faces anywhere between 5 and 20 years imprisonment in a federal penitentiary, though as the DOJ release reiterated, indictments are not evidence of guilt, and the government has the burden of of proving culpability beyond a reasonable doubt.

As the firestorm surrounding Floyd’s controversial death swept the nation in early summer, protests in Chicago devolved into looting and violence that gripped the city for several days. Over 1,200 people were ultimately arrested in the disturbances, and assistance from the National Guard was required to quell the uprising, according to the Chicago Tribune.

According to estimates released by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the state’s Emergency Management Agency, the vandalism and looting that came on the heels of Floyd’s death resulted in over $20 million in damage within Chicago’s Cook County alone, the Sun-Times reported separately.