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Indianapolis man accused of throwing Molotov cocktails in Portland riots faces federal charges

Election 2020 Winning The Suburbs
Posted at 12:59 PM, Jun 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-02 12:59:05-04

INDIANAPOLIS — An Indianapolis man charged with attempted murder for his part in violent protests last year in Portland, Oregon now also faces federal charges, prosecutors said.

Malik Fard Muhammad, 24, was arrested Friday on federal felony charges of possession of registered destructive devices, engaging in civil disorder by obstructing law enforcement and using explosives to commit a federal felony, according to court documents.

He was taken into custody on a U.S. Marshals hold after he was released from state custody when the Portland Freedom Fund posted 10% of his state-ordered $2.1 million bail in a Multnomah County case stemming from the same allegations. The Portland Freedom Fund takes donations to post bail for minority defendants.

Muhammad could face a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison if he is convicted of carrying and using an explosive to obstruct law enforcement.

Muhammad was charged in March with 26 state felonies that include attempted aggravated murder, first degree attempted murder, unlawfully manufacturing an explosive device, first degree criminal mischief, riot, and unlawfully possessing a firearm.

The U.S. Department of Justice alleges Muhammad traveled to Portland with his girlfriend from Indianapolis "for the specific purpose of violently engaging in civil disorder during recent area riots," according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

According to the DOJ, Muhammad was at "a large civil disturbance" on Sept. 5 in Portland when demonstrators threw objects at police that included commercial grade fireworks, Molotov cocktails and bottles. Prosecutors said Muhammad provided baseball bats to people in the crowd and his cell phone contained a shopping list that included ingredients used in making Molotov cocktails.

Police found the Goodwill store where a baseball bat was purchased and obtained surveillance footage showing Muhammad and his girlfriend buying bats and several growler bottles, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors also said Muhammad attended two demonstrations in late September where someone threw Molotov cocktails in yellow glass growlers at police officers. On Sept. 23, someone threw a Molotov cocktail in a large yellow growler that landed in front of police officers and exploded into a large fireball, which caused one officer's leg to catch fire. Law enforcement obtained several videos that show Muhammad throwing the device.

The DOJ also alleges Muhammad used a metal baton to smash the windows of several buildings on Oct. 11. Police arrested him after a short chase and he was found to have a loaded pistol in his pocket.

"Muhammad’s trip to Portland does not appear to be an isolated event," the DOJ's statement said. "Investigators obtained evidence that he traveled to Louisville, Kentucky, in August 2020 to meet with anti-government and anti-authority violent extremist groups to conduct firearms and tactical training. Investigators also obtained several public social media posts by Muhammad promoting violence toward law enforcement in other cities including Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Chicago."

Muhammad was one of the leaders of a rally in June 2020 outside Gov. Eric Holcomb's Indianapolis residence.

He hugged officers at the scene and was criticized by other activists, including Indy10 Black Lives Matter, which said afterward in a tweet, "Making this real clear. We don’t shake hands with the enemy."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.