CLEVELAND, Ohio – Authorities charged a Cleveland resident with starting a fire in a Public Square restaurant that had been vandalized during riots last May, according to an indictment unsealed Friday.
A federal grand jury indicted Michael Sloan, 26, with explosive destruction of property at REBol, an organic café. Investigators arrested him last month, and he has been free on bond.
Sloan joins a handful of suspects charged federally stemming from what began as a peaceful protest on May 30, 2020. Most of those arrested were accused of curfew violations and vandalism in state courts.
The demonstrations involved the treatment of George Floyd, who died days earlier after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than 8 minutes.
As the day wore on, the protests in Cleveland turned violent, as some burned police cars and vandalized stores and businesses.
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson ordered an 8 p.m. curfew hours after the demonstration. At 8:12 p.m., a man later identified as Sloan entered the restaurant, according to an affidavit by Adam Lane, an agent with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The intruder came and went a few times, only to return at 8:20 p.m. About 10 minutes later, cameras spotted him near a service counter, with a flame near him, the affidavit said. He then appeared to place “additional fuel on the fire,” according to the filing.
The man later left the restaurant. Police officers arrived and extinguished the fire. The filing did not list an estimate of damage.
ATF agents learned of Sloan’s identity after law enforcement officials shared photos of the incident in March. One of the photos showed Sloan inside the restaurant after it had been vandalized. Another captured him holding what appeared to be a cellphone, which was plugged into a wall outlet, the affidavit said.
On the same day the photos were released, the ATF received tips pointing to Sloan, Lane’s affidavit noted.
The next day, March 26, Sloan called Shaker Heights police and said that he was the person in the photos. He later met with an ATF agent and admitted that he was involved with the fire at the restaurant, according to the filing.
Several attempts to reach Sloan’s attorney, Darin Thompson, were unsuccessful. Sloan is to appear for an arraignment within the next few weeks.