Tacoma woman to spend 5 years in prison for setting fire to SPD vehicles during 2020 protest

Mar 1, 2022, 1:05 PM | Updated: Mar 2, 2022, 7:36 am
Tacoma woman, Seattle police vehicle fire, protest...
Police vehicles on fire in downtown Seattle. (Hanna Scott, KIRO Newsradio)
(Hanna Scott, KIRO Newsradio)

A 26-year-old Tacoma woman was sentenced to five years in prison Tuesday, after setting fire to five Seattle police vehicles during a downtown protest in late May of 2020.

SPD arrests suspect for setting fire to police vehicle with officer inside

Margaret Aislinn Channon was caught on video footage using fire and aerosol cans to light five Seattle Police Department vehicles on fire during a spring 2020 protest that turned into a riot. It also showed her removing items of clothing from several stores in the area, smashing the window of a Verizon store, and destroying a cash register in a sandwich shop.

She could be seen wearing distinctive clothing in the video, with visible tattoos on her hands and arms. She was arrested on June 11, 2020, as part of a joint investigation by the FBI, ATF, and SPD. Then, in September of 2021, Channon pleaded guilty to arson charges in U.S. District Court, and as a result, now faces five years in federal prison. While the maximum sentence for arson is 20 years, Channon and prosecutors agreed to the mandatory minimum of five years as part of a recommendation to the judge overseeing the case.

Ultimately, federal officials described Channon’s crimes as “an attack on democracy.”

“The right to protest, gather, and call out injustices is one of the dearest and most important rights we enjoy in the United States,” U.S. Attorney Nick Brown said in a press release. “Indeed, our democracy depends on both exercising and protecting these rights. … She used the cover of lawful protests to carry out dangerous and destructive acts, risking the safety of everyone around her and undermining the important messages voiced by others.”

As stipulated in her plea agreement, Channon will also be responsible for restitution for the damaged police vehicles, and will be subject to three years of supervised release once her five-year sentence is completed.

A Seattle man who set fire to an SPD vehicle on the same day was similarly sentenced to five years in prison last summer. He was later seen on video reaching into the broken rear window of another SPD car, removing a rifle, and looking inside. The weapon was anonymously returned to the SPD that day.

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Tacoma woman to spend 5 years in prison for setting fire to SPD vehicles during 2020 protest