An Indiana man charged with breaking windows and throwing Molotov cocktails at police during Portland’s 2020 racial justice protests is set to plead guilty to charges in state and federal courts this week.
Malik Muhammad faces dozens of charges after traveling from Indianapolis to Portland during the summer of 2020, according to prosecutors.
The U.S. Department of Justice has charged Muhammad with several counts, including civil disorder and unlawful possession of a destructive device. He’s set to appear in federal court Monday to plead guilty.
On Tuesday, Muhammad is set to appear in Multnomah County Circuit Court, where he’s scheduled for a plea and sentencing hearing. He faces numerous felonies, including multiple counts of attempted murder, riot and unlawful manufacture of a destructive device.
Willamette Week first reported Muhammad’s plea hearings.
In September and October of 2020, court documents allege Muhammad threw Molotov cocktails at police on several occasions during protests. In one instance, the device didn’t explode. Law enforcement used DNA and linked Muhammad to the device that contained flammable liquid, prosecutors stated. After he was arrested in October, police said they searched Muhammad’s cellphone and found “a shopping list including common ingredients used to make a Molotov cocktail.”
Senior Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Nathan Vasquez wrote in court documents that police found an AR-15 rifle in Muhammad’s trailer, where he was living for several months. Detectives contacted the owner of the rifle, an Indianapolis man who said he met Muhammad in the months before he traveled to Portland.
“He explained that the defendant was attempting to recruit people to engage in violent activities including an armed forceful takeover of a radio or television station in [REDACTED],” Vasquez wrote. “(The man) described the defendant as a communist revolutionary who was attempting to gather people with firearms to engage in acts of violence.”
In court documents, prosecutors also allege Muhammad used a metal baton to smash the windows at the Oregon Historical Society, Portland State University and “many other businesses.”
FBI agents in plain clothes witnessed several of the incidents on different evenings, court documents state.
Muhammad is a U.S. Army veteran who was honorably discharged in 2018 after three years in the military, according to federal public defenders.
“Due to injuries suffered in the military, he receives disability benefits from the Veterans Affairs,” court records state.
Muhammad’s defense attorney in state court, Matthew McHenry, noted in court documents that his client has no history of violent or criminal behavior.
“Mr. Muhammad suffers from Bi-Polar Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, the symptoms of which are well-controlled by medication,” McHenry wrote in state court documents. “Importantly, Mr. Muhammad was not taking such medication during the time period of the charges underlying this case.”
Federal court records state Muhammed “appeared to express” support for anti-government and anti-authority violent extremist (AG/AAVE) groups and ideology on Facebook.
Christopher Schinnerer, an Oregon State Police trooper assigned to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in Portland, wrote in an affidavit that Muhammad traveled to Louisville, Kentucky, for a weekend in August 2020 as nationwide protests over the killing of local resident Breonna Taylor, as well as the murder of George Floyd, at the hands of the police continued.
“He did so with approximately at least five additional individuals for the purpose of meeting with two other like-minded groups in Louisville, Kentucky to conduct firearms and tactical training in support of their AG/AAVE ideology,” Schinnerer wrote.
Schinnerer also noted social media posts by Muhammad advocating violence towards police.
The terms of Muhammed’s plea agreements in Oregon were not immediately available Friday.