A man in Illinois pleaded guilty to inciting a riot in the name of Black Lives Matter in May 2020.
Shamar Betts, 20, posted a Facebook invite for people to riot at the Market Place Shopping Center.
Betts later admitted he fled the state and searched: "what are charges for starting a riot" online.
A man in Illinois pleaded guilty on Tuesday to his role in inciting a riot in Champaign, Illinois, according to the US Department of Justice.
Shamar Betts, 20, was charged with inciting a riot that began on May 31, 2020. Court documents show Betts posted to Facebook on May 31 advocating to start a riot at the Market Place Shopping Center in the names of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter. It called for people to "Bring friends & family, posters, bricks, book bags, etc."
Court records show SWAT team officers with crowd-control substances arrived early to the scene in an effort to prevent a riot from taking place. The crowd grew in size as 50 to 75 people trickled into the location before people began smashing windows and looting inventory from stores.
As the riots continued, federal prosecutors allege that Betts live-streamed the incident and bragged to the stream, saying "look what a n----r just started."
Court filings show that the riots began at 3:12 p.m. and later left the shopping center to move to other locations. According to the News-Gazette, a newspaper in the Champaign-Urbana metropolitan area, the mayor of Champaign announced a curfew during the riots in an effort to curb the rioting.
Despite the new curfew, the rioting ultimately continued throughout the night and into the early morning of June 1. By riot's end, approximately 50 businesses had been looted or vandalized in some form.
George Floyd's family denounced the rioting and unrest the same day. Terrence Floyd, George's brother, said: "That's not going to bring my brother back," and urged people to channel their frustration into voting and peaceful activism instead.
The Champaign Police Department later received video footage of a man matching Betts' appearance with several pairs of khaki pants in hand with tags from Old Navy, a clothing store located in the mall.
Betts admitted in court that he fled to Mississippi directly after the riot and later used his phone to search "can police find your location by logging in messenger," "can police track your facebook," as well as "what are charges for starting a riot." US Marshals found Betts in Mississippi on June 5.
According to a sworn affidavit from Special Agent Andrew Huckstadt of the FBI, Betts deleted the original post advocating for a riot, but investigators found an additional post from Betts where he wrote "They tryna portray me to be some type of monster yet I'm a fucking hero if we don't stand for something we'll fall for anything love my black people #JFG."
Betts' sentencing is scheduled for June 14. The statutory penalty for inciting a riot is no more than five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000.
Betts' attorneys were not available for public comment.
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