CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – A Charleston man was sentenced Wednesday to five years in federal prison for his role in the May 2020 riots that ravaged downtown Charleston.
The protests that evolved into violence May 30 and 31 were among many that broke out across the nation after the death of George Floyd, a Black man killed by a white police officer in Minnesota.
Shabazz Akeem Isiah Watson was one of many arrested for damaging property to Downtown businesses during the chaos on May 30.
According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), Watson entered a wine bar on King Street around 10:30 p.m. and “took several paper menus from the counter, set them on fire with a lighter, and placed them under a wooden barstool.” He did this several times so that the fire grew, the DOJ said.
Other people were inside the wine bar, but Watson was the only one who set the fires.
Around 11:09 p.m., Watson entered a King Street clothing store and set merchandise and clothing on fire. Another person was able to put that fire out before it got out of control.
Around 11:55 p.m., entered a paint store on Meeting Street and set a cardboard display on fire.
About an hour later, Watson entered a retail store on meeting street and lit several items on fire throughout the store.
“The fires grew rapidly and eventually burned the entire building and everything inside, resulting in the business remaining closed for several months during repairs,” according to the DOJ.
Watson caused a total of $2,415,510 in damages across the four businesses.
Watson pleaded guilty to arson and was sentenced to five years in prison plus three years of court-ordered supervision. He was also ordered to pay full restitution.