2 more facing federal arson charges for alleged roles during violent protests in downtown Rochester


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — U.S. Attorney James Kennedy announced Wednesday that two more people are facing federal charges in connection to the violence in the aftermath of a Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Rochester on May 30.

Kennedy says 26-year-old Shakell Sanks and 24-year-old Javon Hardy, both of Rochester, are each charged with arson. If convicted, they will face a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, a maximum of 20 years, and a $250,000 fine.

According to federal authorities:

“Sanks assisted others in attempting to light fabric on fire. The fabric was stuffed into the gas tank of a parked car belonging to the City of Rochester Family Crisis Intervention Team (FACIT). At approximately 6:20 p.m., the FACIT car began to smoke and shortly thereafter became engulfed in flames. The car was a total loss. Sanks was eventually identified as one of several individuals involved in starting the fire and was arrested. Wednesday, Sanks made his initial appearance in federal court. Another individual, Mackenzie Drechsler, 19, of Ontario, NY, was previously charged by criminal complaint for her role in the arson of the FACIT car.

That same day, at approximately 6:28 p.m., a 32-foot by 8-foot mobile office/construction trailer, also located in downtown Rochester and rented by the Michels Corporation of Wisconsin, was also set on fire and rendered a total loss. The mobile office contained work equipment, tools, a printer, camera, and wi-fi device. As alleged in the criminal complaint filed against him, Facebook Live video footage posted by various users shows defendant Hardy carrying a milk jug at the back door of the trailer. Hardy is then seen walking down the trailer steps and heard yelling, ‘Let that (expletive) burn,’ and ‘If it’s not on fire, I didn’t do my job.’ A second individual, Marquis Frasier, 27, of Rochester, was also previously charged with arson for allegedly using a Molotov Cocktail to help start the same trailer on fire.”

MORE | 4 face federal arson charges in connection to violent protests in Rochester on May 30

Locally, Rochester police have arrested more than 20 people stemming from a May 30th Black Lives Matter rally that turned violent.

MORE | Widespread looting preceded by cars set on fire, tear gas deployed at violent rally in Rochester

A peaceful afternoon Black Lives Matter rally on May 30th in downtown Rochester turned violent in the evening hours. Police vehicles were vandalized, tear gas was deployed, cars were lit on fire, and those events outside the Public Safety Building preceded more looting and destruction around the area that evening.

As a result of those events Saturday, five people suffered non-life threatening injuries. Rochester police officials declared they would keep investigating the matter until all of those responsible were held accountable.

Still, despite the destruction that consumed the community Saturday, an outpouring of community support followed. Thousands of volunteers pitched in Sunday morning to help clean and restore areas in and around the city.

In anticipation of more violence and looting the following, Gov. Andrew Cuomo authorized an additional 200 New York State Police troopers to help patrol the region, with the National Guard on standby. With a county-wide curfew enacted, and additional police resources, that Sunday night was relatively peaceful and quiet in the Rochester community.

Since then, there have been peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstrations in and around the city each week.

MORE | RPD on protest investigation: ‘People need to be held accountable’

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