Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
After billions in damages, hundreds wounded, and some killed, including an 8-year-old girl, the Black Lives Matter riots led to virtually no consequences. The co-founders of the racist hate group got Hollywood deals and bought mansions, and BLM groups were flooded with cash.
While cities and states rushed to give the rioters a free pass, a few federal prosecutors worked to bring at least a few of the worst rioters to justice. With no support from the Department of Justice, which under Attorney General Merrick Garland is fully invested in supporting black nationalism, and little local support, they have won serious prison time for two rioters.
It may not be much, but like the Kyle Rittenhouse case every little bit of pushback counts.
In the Buffalo BLM riots, virtually every rioter got a pass from local authorities in upstate New York with 35 out of 57 cases dismissed, 12 adjournments, and only three guilty verdicts.
But Federal prosecutors have scored a win with one rioter getting a five year prison sentence.
Courtland M. Renford became a minor celebrity when he was photographed shirtless and wearing a Chanel luxury brand face mask while doing a black nationalist salute.
Court documents describe him yelling, “with an arm thrust overhead in excitement, ‘Black Lives Matter!,’ just a few feet from the camera. Less than a minute later, he picks up a green laundry basket with flames in it, steps up on a waist-high two-level abutment and on to the frame of the already broken window, and tosses the flaming basket into City Hall.”
The fire was quickly put out, but caused $10,000 in damage. While the media has typically refused to show pictures and videos of BLM rioters, let alone ask the public for help in locating them, an attitude that has made it difficult for law enforcement to track down and arrest rioters, his image appeared on the news. The perp’s friends and neighbors stayed loyal and refused to turn him in, but a local cop who knew him called in and provided his name and address.
New York’s “bail reform” would have set him loose, as it has so many other criminals, but then federal authorities stepped in and refused to buy his excuses and give him a slap on the wrist.
A court ruling noted that Renford was a career offender who though, “only 20 years of age” had built up quite a criminal record and had been the “subject of multiple bench warrants while under court supervision” and “committed additional crimes while under court supervision.”
Renford claimed that unknown individuals had given him the burning basket and told him to throw it through the window. There’s no way to know whether that’s true, but it does raise questions about how the BLM riots were organized and who was really behind them.
The City Hall BLM arson attack was his “eighth arrest in a two-year time frame” that included holding up a woman for her cell phone, and he has six orders of protection against him.
His lawyer claimed, as usual, that he had mental problems, and proposed that he be enrolled in anti-violence programs. Renford underwent three psychological evaluations and the process dragged on even though he had already confessed and there was a trail of text messages linking him to the attack. But finally the justice system delivered justice.
Over in Minneapolis, Victor Devon Edwards has been sentenced to eight years in prison.
Edwards had joined a BLM riot based on the false claim that police officers had shot and killed a black man, and then engaged in a long string of of attacks over three hours during which he broke into numerous businesses, including large chain establishments like Target and Saks, as well as smaller businesses, a bar and a coffee shop.
Federal prosecutors noted that, “Edwards bragged about his participation in the rioting and looting.” Much of the evidence against Edwards came from Facebook live streaming video and surveillance cameras which captured him, among other things, starting a fire in the Target headquarters that caused almost a million dollars in damage.
Edwards’ public defender insisted that “he is not a violent person”, but “a sensitive, impressionable young man whose life has been repeatedly derailed by tragedy and trauma.”
Instead of psychological problems, as had been the case for Renford, his lawyer blamed “learning disabilities”, an equally cliched excuse for criminals. The defense attorney did not specify which learning disability prevented Edwards from understanding right and wrong.
But according to her, he was not ”in a positive, healthy place.” Now he will be.
Coffee or Die reported that prosecutors warned that his criminal behavior had escalated, “leading to convictions for criminal sexual conduct, felony theft, driving while intoxicated, and child endangerment.”
Alpha News reported that Edwards had “prior felony convictions in Hennepin County for third-degree criminal sexual conduct and theft, as well as other convictions for child endangerment” but that in “both felony convictions, Edwards was granted a stay of execution or imposition and was placed on probation.”
Being sentenced to 8 years in prison should at least temporarily impose some consequences.
The verdict sends a clear message in Minneapolis, where over 90% of cases against Black Lives Matter rioters were dropped by the Democrat establishment. As the New York Times put it, “prosecutors declined to pursue many of the cases because they concluded that the protesters were exercising their basic civil rights.”
Burning, looting, rioting, maiming, and terrorizing entire cities is not a “civil right”.
Black Lives Matter have often been accused of being racial arsonists. Renford and Edwards have been accused of literal arson. The vast majority of BLM arsonists have never been caught or received a slap on the wrist, but these convictions are a sign of hope for our justice system.
This won’t be in the next email about diversity and inclusion that a major corporation dispatches, it won’t show up in Attorney General Merrick Garland’s next speech or on CNN, but it happened. America isn’t dead yet and justice is not impossible: it takes hard work, dedication, and a willingness to take on an unpopular cause and see it through by rigorously following the law.
This is a reminder that there are still good people working to bring the race rioters to justice.