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Four face federal arson charges, accused of damage at Rochester protest

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Four Rochester-area residents who were already facing state charges for allegedly destroying vehicles during and after a May 30 protest are now facing federal arson charges as well.

James Kennedy, the U.S. Attorney for New York’s Western District, laid out the charges and allegations during a news conference Tuesday. In remarks that drew on a Fredrick Douglass speech and pivoted into law and order rhetoric, Kennedy framed the alleged actions of the defendants “not as part of any righteous crusade,” but as criminal acts.
James Kennedy, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York, announced today that four Rochester-area residents, previously facing state charges for allegedly destroying vehicles, now face federal arson charges. - PHOTO BY JEREMY MOULE
  • PHOTO BY JEREMY MOULE
  • James Kennedy, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York, announced today that four Rochester-area residents, previously facing state charges for allegedly destroying vehicles, now face federal arson charges.

Kennedy added that his office and local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies “will continue to do all that we can to deliver a healthy prescription of law and order to those, like these defendants, who seem more interested in spreading the decidedly un-American diseases of lawlessness, chaos, and division, across these — our — United States of America.”

Other federal prosecutors across the country have also charged protesters for allegedly destroying police vehicles, damaging government property, and using physical force against federal law enforcement officers.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office charged Dyshika McFadden, 26, and Miguel Ramos, 19, both of Rochester, with conspiracy to commit arson and arson. They’re accused of setting fire to a Rochester Police Department car parked outside of the Public Safety Building, according to the office. The car was completely destroyed.

The office also charged Mackenzie Drechsler, 19, of Ontario, with arson, accusing her of setting fire to a vehicle owned by the state Attorney General’s Office and of helping an unidentified man set fire to a vehicle belonging to the city of Rochester’s Family Crisis Intervention Team. Both vehicles were parked in a lot across from the Public Safety Building on Exchange Street.

Marquis Frasier, 27, of Rochester, faces an arson charge for allegedly using a Molotov cocktail to set fire to a construction trailer parked in the same lot.



All of the Rochester defendants face a sentence of 5 to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Local Black Lives Matter activists have called for police and prosecutors to dismiss all charges against anyone arrested during and in the aftermath of a May 30 protest in downtown Rochester. The largely peaceful protest turned to chaos at its end as a small number of protesters flipped and destroyed vehicles and police fired tear gas and pepper balls at the crowd.
Police and government officials tried to blame the melee, and specifically the destruction of police cars, on “outsiders.” But protest organizers did not condemn the acts and instead pushed back. Laying blame on outsiders, or trying to dismiss their actions as fomenting division, they said, ignored the pain and suffering felt by people of color in the community.

During a news conference this past Friday in front of District Attorney Sandra Doorley’s house, the organizers again called for charges to be dropped against the protesters.

Jeremy Moule is CITY's news editor. He can be reached at jmoule@rochester-citynews.com.

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