A far-left journalist was among four suspects who face federal charges in relation to firebombings of police vehicles in Arkansas. The anti-police attacks happened during a Black Lives Matter protest in August.
A large group of BLM protesters gathered at the Little Rock Police Department’s 12th Street Substation on Aug. 25. Rioters slashed the tires of police vehicles and threw Molotov cocktails. Authorities reviewed surveillance footage that showed two people lobbing Molotov cocktails at the fenced police parking lot.
Then on Aug. 28, an Arkansas State Police vehicle was vandalized and burned at the Arkansas State Police Headquarters in Little Rock. “One vehicle had been set on fire, one had been vandalized with spray paint, and several others had punctured tires,” according to the Department of Justice. One state trooper cruiser was spray-painted with the message: “STOP KILLING US.” Investigators also discovered a detonated Molotov cocktail that was constructed from a bottle of brandy.
Three individuals were caught on surveillance video “entering the vehicle storage area wearing dark clothing and backpacks.” The complaint reads, “The video shows them bending down in a motion consistent with slashing vehicle tires as well as throwing a lighted object into a police vehicle.”
Federal search warrants were executed to obtain cell phone data, which showed that the suspects were in the location of Arkansas State Police Headquarters during the time of the attacks.
There was a months-long investigation by the ATF, Arkansas State Police, North Little Rock Police Department, and Little Rock Police Department. On Dec. 17, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Arkansas announced that Brittany Dawn Jeffrey, 31, Emily Nowlin, 27, Aline Espinosa-Villegas, 24, and Renea Baek Goddard, 22, had been arrested.
New report: 4 far-left activists have been arrested following ATF investigation into firebombing attacks in Little Rock. Renea Goddard, one of the suspects, is a journalist. Other arrestees include Brittany Jeffrey, Aline Espinosa-Villegas & Emily Nowlin. https://t.co/rc5jTMUKmn
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) December 24, 2020
Federal investigators allege that Goddard, Nowlin, and Espinosa-Villegas orchestrated the attacks and “conspired together, aided and abetted one another.” The group utilized encrypted applications to communicate with each other “in an attempt to thwart law enforcement detection of the group[‘s] criminal activities,” as reported in the Post Millennial.
Law enforcement interviewed several cooperating witnesses who alleged that the incendiary devices were assembled at Jeffrey’s residence.
Jeffrey live-streamed her arrest on Facebook, according to the report.
“She at first refused to exit her car until arresting officers explained what the federal warrant was for. The video ended when police confiscated her phone. She has since been released from police custody,” the report said.
Jeffrey was previously arrested on July 12 for criminal trespassing at a Black Lives Matter protest at a frozen custard restaurant, where an employee had been fired for allegedly “making racist comments in the presence of a black co-worker.”
Goddard was previously arrested and charged with obstructing governmental operations while violating curfew at a BLM protest on June 2.
Goddard is a far-left journalist from Little Rock, who has contributed to KUAR Public Radio, Arkansas Public Media, and Autostraddle, a “digital publication and real life community for multiple generations of LGBTQIA+ humans” that is “run by a team of progressively feminist queer and trans folks.” Her bio states she “enjoys writing commentary on issues like mass incarceration, U.S militarism, and identity politics.”
Espinosa-Villegas and Nowlin were also arrested at the June 2 protest.
For the Molotov cocktail attack, suspects have been charged with malicious destruction of property belonging to an entity receiving federal funding, conspiracy to commit those acts, and possession of a destructive device.
“Today’s arrests send a message that violence targeted toward law enforcement will not be tolerated,” U.S. Attorney Hiland said in a statement. “Breaking into a police compound and fire bombing a police vehicle with a homemade explosive device is clearly not a peaceful protest. Those who would target law enforcement with violent acts will not do so in the Eastern District of Arkansas without the full resources of the federal government being deployed to assist our state and local partners in bringing those responsible to justice. They will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”