Two Pennsylvania men were arrested Friday for traveling to Cleveland, Ohio on May 30 to participate in riots in response to the death of George Floyd, whose alleged murder by a Minneapolis police officer sparked unrest across the nation.
U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Justin Herdman said that Brandon Michael Althof Long, 23, (pictured left) and Devon Bryce Poland, 22, (pictured right) were charged with engaging and conspiring to engage in interstate travel with a firearm with the intent to use fire to participate in civil unrest and riot, use of fire to commit a felony, and rioting.
Both are from Erie, Pennsylvania and were arrested by agents from the Cleveland Division of the FBI.
“At the Justice Department, we hold people accountable for their actions,” Herdman said in a statement. “Mr. Long and Mr. Poland were not from Cleveland. They arrived with weapons and the ingredients for an incendiary device and purposefully inserted themselves into a constitutionally protected protest, with the design to exploit it for their own purposes. We will hold these two accountable for their actions and anyone else who may have violated the law.”
According to a criminal complaint filed in the matter, Long and Poland had their vehicle searched after they were stopped by law enforcement officers for being out past Cleveland’s 8 p.m. curfew.
“Found inside the vehicle was a pistol, 17 rounds of ammunition, a hammer, a BB gun resembling a pistol, a red plastic bottle of liquid fire starter, two Apple iPhones, and a bottle of liquor believed to have been looted from a store earlier in the day and other objects,” the complaint states.
The FBI executed a search warrant on the two iPhones and found messages demonstrating “an intent by Long and Poland to travel from Pennsylvania to Cleveland, Ohio on May 30, 2020, to participate in, promote, encourage, and aid and abet the criminal riots.”
In the messages, the defendants specifically discussed the supplies needed to create a Molotov cocktail, an incendiary device.
It’s still unclear if Long and Poland are affiliated with any organized extremist groups, such as Antifa or the white supremacist “boogaloo” group. In a detailed statement discussing the charges, Herdman said the peaceful protests were “undoubtedly” hijacked by “out of state agitators.”
Long and Poland represent the “first two federal arrests” stemming from the May 30 riots, but Herdman promised there would be more.
“They were, by any definition, riots that disrupted the end of a lawful and peaceful assembly of well-meaning citizens,” he said. “We are working on numerous additional investigations associated with those riots, and pursuing a number of potential federal charges involving a series of individuals who are responsible for the destruction of our downtown.”
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said everyone has the right to “peacefully demonstrate and protest, but once there is violence against people or property then we need to take action to protect the safety and well-being of our community.”
“Everyone has a constitutional right to freedom of speech, to protest, to bring grievance, to express their concerns to government,” he said. “I want to thank our law enforcement partners for their assistance as we look to address the underlying things that have caused the demonstrations in our city.”
Read the 14-page charging document in full:
– – –
Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun and The Ohio Star. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photos “Brandon Michael Althof Long” and “Devon Bryce Poland” by the Cuyahoga County Sheriff Department.