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Providence Man Charged With Setting Cruiser On Fire During George Floyd Protests

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - A Providence, Rhode Island, man has been charged with arson for allegedly setting fire to a Providence Police Department cruiser during a protest in early June.

Luis Joel Sierra, 34, was arraigned in U.S. District Court in Providence on Friday. Sierra is accused of leaning inside the cruiser and starting the fire with flammable fluid and a lighter. The cruiser was destroyed.

A group of up to 300 people showed up outside the mall around 11:30 p.m. June 1 to protest the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, when things fell apart quickly.

As a police cruiser was torched and windows of businesses were shattered, Providence Police said, a group of 75-to-100 people stormed the mall and looted about 12-to-18 businesses inside before officers forced them back outside.

About 65 people were arrested. Thirty-five were from Providence, five from Massachusetts and the rest from towns in Rhode Island. The FBI offered a reward for information about the vandalized cruiser.

"Senseless violence and vandalism are no way to effect change. The alleged actions of this defendant are indicative of his intent to inflict damage and promote chaos – not to address issues. Not only did the alleged actions of this defendant destroy a Providence Police cruiser, he also endangered the safety of dozens of nearby protesters, as the cruiser burst into flames," said United States Attorney Aaron L. Weisman.

Court documents reveal that Sierra allegedly told someone that he was one of the people responsible for setting the cruiser on fire. Police were also provided with several videos allegedly taken on Snapchat off Sierra's phone and a recorded conversation with Sierra during which Sierra allegedly detailed his actions.

Police and the FBI are still investigating the incident.

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