Federal prosecutors say this picture depicts Lamar Taylor and Denzal Stewart outside a CTA van that would soon be engulfed in flames May 30, 2020.
U.S. District Court records
A man who torched a Chicago Transit Authority van downtown during the May 2020 protests after the murder of George Floyd and livestreamed his plans for mayhem was sentenced to 26 months in prison Tuesday.
Lamar Taylor buried his face in his hands and sobbed upon hearing U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman’s sentence at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse. Taylor could be released soon from the Metropolitan Correctional Center, where he’s been held for the last 22 months. Inmates are typically entitled to a 15% sentence reduction for good behavior.
Feinerman said many who were downtown on May 30, 2020, were there to peacefully protest.
“And yet there were those — Mr. Taylor among them — who used those protests as an opportunity to not engage in protests but instead to either loot or set fires or otherwise cause mayhem,” the judge said.
But in rejecting the prosecution’s call for a four-year prison term, Feinerman said he was taking into account Taylor’s rough South Side upbringing that included seeing a brother shot dead by Chicago police. He also noted Taylor had taken advantage of programs while behind bars to set himself on the right path after his release.
“Please forgive me for the pain I caused the city of Chicago, the firefighters, the police officers. I apologize to everyone,” Taylor said before he was sentenced.
Taylor, who lives in the city, pleaded guilty in May to arson conspiracy and civil disobedience, admitting that he set fire to an unoccupied CTA van on State Street amid the rioting and looting that consumed downtown in May 2020.
As Taylor was driving downtown, he posted a video on Facebook Live in which he said, among other things, “I’m on my way to protest for a Rolex.”
Taylor claimed after he’d first been charged that he saw police fatally shoot his brother in March 2014, and he was therefore triggered by the murder of Floyd by then-Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin.
Federal prosecutors called that explanation “disingenuous and outright shameful.”
Taylor’s attorney, Anthony Sassan, on Tuesday argued that in a later part of the Facebook post, Taylor doesn’t brag about his plans but expresses his fear of the quickly changing situation downtown.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Albert Berry mocked the idea that Feinerman should simply ignore the “bad stuff” said in the post.
“He cannot step away from the fact that he burned that CTA van for no legitimate reason,” Berry said.
Last month, Feinerman sentenced Taylor’s cousin, Denzal Stewart, to three years and nine months for his part in the arson. Stewart’s longer sentence reflected his lengthy criminal history.