Last Friday police in Indiana arrested 24-year-old activist Malik Muhammed. Muhammed has now been charged with a litany of crimes including attempted murder for his behavior during Portland riots last year. If you’re a regular reader, then you may remember the incident where a man threw a Molotov cocktail at a group of officers, briefly setting one of them on fire.
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) September 24, 2020
Another man was initially arrested for tossing the firebomb but those charges were later dropped. Now police say Muhammed was the person who threw it and that it was just one of four violent incidents Muhammed was involved in. The others included “violent conduct” near the Portland Police Bureau on September 5. Throwing a “large burning object” at a police car on September 21. That appears to have been another Molotov cocktail but in that instance it didn’t break and therefore did not ignite. And finally he’s charged with using a metal baton to smash windows at the Oregon Historical Society and other sites on October 11. That last incident was the night rioters tore down a statue of Abraham Lincoln. Here’s the damage they did to the Historical Society:
Update: Damage to Portland Art Museum, flare thrown into building. Protesters now marching through streets. Riot declared. #PDXprotests #pdxriot #PortlandProtests #portlandriot #portland #protest #riot pic.twitter.com/DPHBt1ncrK
— Independent Media PDX (@NDpendentPDX) October 12, 2020
As a result of all of this, Muhammed is now facing a long list of charges including four counts of attempted murder in the first degree, two counts of attempted aggravated murder and two counts of attempted murder in the second degree. There are also charges for rioting, unlawful possession of a firearm and unlawful manufacture of a destructive device.
Malik Muhammed has an interesting history. In his hometown of Indianapolis he was a BLM activist who made a name for himself at a protest where he hugged a police officer:
As a protester moved toward the line, a spray of pepper balls hit the ground in front of his feet.
But then that man, Malik Muhammad, was allowed to approach. A negotiation began.
Before long, an officer had his arm around him…
“We can work together. We can do this peacefully,” one of them said, according to audio that was captured on a livestream.
Police began to remove their riot gear. Others took a knee while protesters cheered.
Muhammad and Rolinson began their walk. IMPD Sgt. Vince Stewart joined in. Other protesters hugged officers.
Here’s an image captured at that protest:
After this “made for TV moment” made a lot of local news, Malik reportedly had a meeting with the state’s Governor. But the local BLM chapter was not happy about having a BLM protest turn into a kumbaya moment. They tweeted this response and suddenly Malik’s response was judged to be controversial:
— BLM INDY (@indy10people) June 2, 2020
That happened about three months before Muhammed came to Portland. Given the timing, you have to wonder if the sudden turn in his tactics wasn’t connected to the public backlash he received from BLM. He received positive attention for what everyone saw as an act of de-escalation in Indianapolis, even meeting with the Governor, but then BLM framed that as shaking hands with “the enemy” and suddenly he was on the outside of the movement he clearly wanted to be part of. Three months later he’s throwing firebombs at cops in Portland, almost like he’s trying to prove he hates the police more than anyone else. Ultimately, Muhammed is responsible for his own actions but I do wonder if he was motivated by outside factors.
Here’s a report from KGW News which first uncovered the story of Muhammed’s pending arrest.