(The Post Millennial) – Tacoma-native, Isaiah Thomas Willoughby, received a two-year prison sentence in conjunction with three years of supervised release for starting a fire outside the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct building last year. Willoughby recently entered a plea agreement for arson charges.
According to surveillance footage, the 36-year-old used a gas accelerant on debris then fed objects to the flames to fuel the budding fire on June 12, 2020. Local law enforcement quickly identified Willoughby at the time of the incident during “early morning hours.” Per KING 5, prosecutors highlighted the danger he posed to nearby campers.
At the time of the incident, the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) autonomous zone inflamed tensions faced by Seattle police specifically, who had to abandon the East Precinct building in short order after chaos ensued from riots outside. The aftermath led to a self-governance experiment spanning several weeks before law enforcement intervened to disrupt the tent city.
Police first arrested Willoughby a week after the arson, and he was in federal custody a month later. His family identified him and connected him to be in the area at the time of the crime. The Department of Justice noted their suspect tried removing social media posts incriminating himself after police circulated pictures of him.
When Willoughby received his first conviction in June 2021, his defense attorney explained the motivation behind the arson. “Isaiah Willoughby was housemates with Manny Ellis when law enforcement officers killed Mr. Ellis. Mr. Willoughby’s actions in setting the fire at the East Precinct were motivated in large part by the killing of his friend Manny, the murder of George Floyd, and his own experiences with law enforcement.”
Assistant US attorney Todd Greenberg said Willoughby’s actions went against “what the protestors were trying to accomplish.”