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CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago man who posted online to urge others to join massive crowds that were looting downtown businesses in the summer of 2020 has pleaded guilty to inciting and participating in a riot.
James Massey’s guilty plea in federal court on Tuesday came just under a year after he was arrested. He faces a maximum prison sentence of five years in prison, but the Chicago Sun-Times reported that he will likely be sentenced to two years when he returns to court May 10.
The 23-year-old Massey was arrested after an investigation revealed that he posted a series of sometimes profane messages and videos on Facebook on Aug. 9, 2020, in which he urged people to take part in the widespread violence that erupted in the city that day and the next.
Massey told others that the looting would start at 12 a.m. and that they should “Bring YA TOOLS SKI MASKS AND GLOVES.”
Prosecutors say Massey said in a video posted later: “I ain’t missing out. I am ready to steal.”
After sending other messages, such as “WE LIE TOGETHER WE DIE TOGETHER,” prosecutors said in the complaint that Massey is seen on surveillance video walking to a store with a tire iron in his hand while another person smashed the store window. They alleged he entered a store, grabbed some coats then took part in vandalizing a convenience store and a cellphone store.
During the rioting, vandals smashed windows of dozens of businesses and made off with clothing, cash machines and anything else they could carry. Two people were shot and more than a dozen police officers were injured in the rioting that ended with more than 100 arrests.