Several SC protesters face federal charges for violence in Columbia, Charleston in May

Several SC protesters face federal charges for violence in Columbia, Charleston in May
Protests in downtown Columbia began peacefully but ended in violence on Saturday, May 30, 2020. (Source: Joel Shell)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Protesters accused of starting fires or inciting riots in Columbia and Charleston now face federal charges -- some of them on top of state charges.

After George Floyd’s death while in police custody in Minnesota at the end of May, many people took to the streets across the country.

In South Carolina, a peaceful protest in Columbia erupted into violence and several police cars were burned on Saturday, May 30.

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Similar protests in Charleston that same weekend also ended in violence, looting and destruction.

“Violent agitators disrupted and distracted from peaceful protests in Columbia and Charleston and committed violent acts against citizens and law enforcement officers, vandalizing businesses and destroying public property,” U.S. Attorney Peter M. McCoy, Jr. said.

He added: “This office will always stand up for law and order.”

Six people now face federal charges.

Court documents show the following people have been charged with, or have agreed to plead guilty to, the following federal crimes:

  • Karlos Gibson-Brown, 24, of Columbia, has agreed to plead guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition for a riot-related incident on May 31, 2020.
  • Marcelo Woods, 28, of Columbia, has been charged with destroying a Columbia Police Department vehicle by means of fire for riot-related conduct on May 30, 2020.
  • Tearra Guthrie, 23, of Charleston, has agreed to plead guilty to civil disorders related to the violence and destruction on May 30, 2020.
  • Kelsey Jackson, 28, of Charleston, has agreed to plead guilty to arson of a Charleston Police Department patrol car on May 30, 2020.
  • Abraham Jenkins, 26, of Charleston, has agreed to plead guilty to civil disorders related to the violence and destruction on May 30, 2020.
  • Orlando King, 31, of North Charleston, has agreed to plead guilty to a violation of the Anti-Riot Act related to the violence and destruction on May 30, 2020, and to being a felon in possession of a firearm stemming from an unrelated incident on April 25, 2020.

If found guilty, some of these suspects could face long prison sentences. Arson is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and civil disorder and inciting a riot have possible maximum sentences of five years.

The FBI, ATF, Charleston Police Department, Columbia Police Department, Richland County Sheriff’s Department, and South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) will all continue to investigate these cases.

Other people could face federal charges.

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