Teenager charged with using internet to incite riots at Market Place Mall

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CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — A Champaign teenager arrested Friday in Mississippi in connection to looting and vandalizing at the Market Place Mall has been formally charged.

Officials said 19-year-old Shamar N. Betts was charged “in a federal criminal complaint with using the internet to incite rioting.”. He is expected to make an initial appearance in federal court in the Southern District of Mississippi in Jackson. That date has not yet been determined.

“The defendant, as alleged,” used the peaceful demonstrations over the death of George Floyd, as cover to plan and carry out criminal activity,” said U.S. Attorney John Milhiser. He continued to say Betts incited riots and damages to area businesses.

Betts is accused of making a Facebook post with the statement “We gotta put Champaign/Urbana on the map –expletive– gone hear and fear us too. Slide let’s get busy Justice for George –expletive.” Officials said it also had a stock image of a car on fire with “Riot @ MarketPlace Mall” and asked people to bring friends, posters, bricks, etc. It then said the group would be “hitting the whole PROSPECT & NEIL.” He is also accused of making a Facebook Live video from the scene of the riot.

Champaign officers were at the mall when the group started forming. Some group members then broke out windows at various businesses in the mall and looted items from inside. Other businesses in the area were looted as well.

Investigators were able to identify Betts as the same person who allegedly made the Facebook posts and video.

If convicted of inciting a riot, Betts faces up to five years in prison.

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