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Man sentenced to 4 years for Minneapolis police station fire

The man must also pay $12 million in restitution for his role in lighting the Third Precinct headquarters on fire during unrest after George Floyd’s death

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The Minneapolis Third Police Precinct is set on fire during a third night of protests following the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody, on May 28, 2020.

Carlos Gonzalez/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS

By Liz Sawyer
Star Tribune

MINNEAPOLIS — A Brainerd man has been sentenced to four years in prison and must pay $12 million in restitution for his role in the lighting the Minneapolis Third Precinct police headquarters on fire during civil unrest after the death of George Floyd.

Last May, Dylan Shakespeare Robinson, 23, trampled over a fence meant to keep protesters out and lit a Molotov cocktail, which another person threw toward the precinct — shortly after the crowd began shouting “Burn it down, burn it down,” according to federal charges.

“On the night of May 28, 2020, Mr. Robinson chose to depart from lawful protest and instead engaged in violence and destruction,” said a statement by Acting U.S. Attorney Anders Folk, whose office prosecuted the case. “The arson at the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct put lives at risk and contributed to widespread lawlessness in Minneapolis.”

Robinson pleaded guilty in December to one count of conspiracy to commit arson. As part of his sentence, he will serve two years of supervised release and must pay $12 million in restitution.

To collect the restitution, prosecutors use tools including wage, bank account and retirement plan garnishments in addition to a monthly pay plan that is typically set by the judge while a defendant is on supervision, according to U.S. Attorney spokesperson Tasha Zerna. Liens are also filed against a defendant’s property.

“The danger posed by the defendant in this case was very real,” Michael Paul, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Minneapolis field office, said in a statement. “Today’s sentencing sends a clear message — regardless of motivation, when someone is intent on conducting a violent act that breaks federal law, the FBI and our law enforcement partners will move assertively to hold them accountable.

As part of their investigation, federal agents studied videos posted on social media and from nearby city-owned surveillance cameras to try to identify others who helped burn the building.

Co-conspirators Bryce Michael Williams, 27, Davon De-Andre Turner, 25, and Branden Michael Wolfe, 23, also pleaded guilty under plea agreements to one count each of conspiracy to commit arson for their individual roles in igniting the precinct fire. They have yet to be sentenced.

Hennepin County prosecutors separately charged Wolfe with theft of government property after authorities reportedly raided his St. Paul apartment and found a stash of items apparently taken from the precinct, including a riot helmet with an MPD logo on the front, MPD “junior officer” badge stickers, a police radio, 9mm pistol magazine and a Narcan kit. When he was arrested, Wolfe was wearing body armor and a police-issued duty belt and carrying a baton, according to the criminal complaint.

A member of the Boogaloo Bois, a right-wing group intent on capitalizing on chaos and starting the next American civil war, has also been charged with assisting in the damage to the precinct that night. Ivan Harrison Hunter, a 26-year-old from Boerne, Texas, is accused of shooting 13 rounds from an AK-47-style rifle into the precinct while people were inside the building.

Hunter bragged on Facebook that “I helped the community burn down that police station” and “I didn’t’ (sic) protest peacefully,” according to the charges.

The burning of the Third Precinct has become one of the most prominent visual symbols of the protests and riots that erupted in response to former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pinning Floyd, an unarmed Black man, to the ground while Floyd and onlookers begged for his life. Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death earlier this month. Three other MPD officers are expected to face charges of aiding and abetting murder Aug. 23.

(c)2021 the Star Tribune (Minneapolis)