“Tacoma Woman Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison for Arson at Downtown Seattle Protest”

This is a Justice Department press release, which was distributed yesterday

U.S. attorney Nick Brown announced that a 26-year old Tacoma woman has been sentenced to five years imprisonment for setting fire to five Seattle Police cars parked near Sixth and Pine in Seattle. After an FBI, ATF and Seattle Police Department investigation, Margaret Aislinn Channon, was taken into custody June 11, 2020. U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour stated that Channon’s actions had caused “tremendous harm to Black Lives Matter” in Seattle.

U.S. Attorney Nick Brown said that the right to demonstrate, meet, and protest injustices was one of America’s most treasured and essential rights. These rights are essential for democracy. However, Ms. Channon was an actual attack on democracy. “She used lawful protests as cover to commit dangerous and destructive acts. She put herself at risk and undermined the messages of others.

Records filed in the case show that Channon was seen in video footage from downtown Seattle protest wearing unusual clothing and sporting tattoos on her arms and hands. Channon was captured using aerosol cans, fire, and other means to set five Seattle Police Department vehicles ablaze. Also, she is shown trying to steal clothing from various shops. In addition to smashing the Verizon Store window, she also admitted entering a sandwich shop where she destroyed the electronic cash register. On the basis of her tattoos and clothing, Channon was identified by investigators.

Channon’s most serious act was arson using an aerosol container as a blowtorch. Prosecutors noted that hundreds of people had been standing around the area where Channon’s police cars were being burned. Some of these people could be seen only a few meters away. They were all in danger if one vehicle exploded.

Donald M. Voiret Special Agent in Charge, Seattle Field Office, stated that “this case shows the FBI’s determination to investigate domestic terrorist cases, regardless of their motivations.” The FBI supports peaceful expressions of freedom of speech. Channon was a violent and destructive act, placed others at risk, distracted from, and escalated protests.

Jonathan T. McPherson (ATF Seattle Field Division Special agent in Charge) stated that legal protests are not limited to the use of violence such as smashing store windows, committing theft or arson.  Anyone who resorts to violence or arson against our citizens, businesses, and cities will be vigorously investigated. This is an incredibly appropriate sentence and sends a strong message to those who would tolerate such behaviour. …

Todd Greenberg, Assistant United States Attorney is prosecuting the case.