Tacoma Woman Arrested For Arson At Protest After Police Recognize Tattoos

Mugshot-Split-JUSTICE-DeptWe recently discussed the “Joker” case in Chicago where Timothy O’Donnell was arrested for arson after his tattoos were identified by police after he burned a police vehicle.  Now, a Tacoma woman, Margaret Aislinn Channon, 25, has been arrested for burning five vehicles in part due to her equally recognizable ink. There is one other similarity.  They are both not only charged with arson, but charged in federal court.  I continue to be uneasy over the broad federal jurisdictional claims underlying charges that traditionally are matters for state and local prosecutors.

U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran announced that Channon was caught on multiple cameras May 30 using an accelerant lit like a blowtorch to burn five police vehicles. Here are two of those pictures:


However, it was her tattoos that sealed the identification.  It turns out that she was a missing person in Texas in 2019 and her tattoos were described in detail.




Police took that flyer and matched it with this picture from the protests:


It is another example of the perils of ink for anarchists and antifascists.

Channon now faces up to 10 years and that is only counting the arson charge.  There is still the possibility that the Administration will try to convert some of these cases to domestic terrorism cases.

Here is my problem.  As I mentioned in the Joker case, the federal government is making a jurisdictional claim that would effectively negate federalism principles in criminal law.  In Chicago, the federal prosecutors appear to be arguing that the police car belongs to the city government, which buys vehicles in interstate commerce. That is a pretty breathtaking construction that makes the ruling in Wickard v. Filburn (1942) looks modest in comparison.  In that case, Roscoe Filburn was growing wheat to feed his chickens, but the Supreme Court still defined the activity as interstate commerce because his crops reduced the amount of wheat on the open (and national) market.

Defendants like Channon face the likelihood of longer sentencing in the federal than the state government, though torching five police cares will get you a hefty sentence in either system.

The concern from a civil liberties standpoint is that the federal government could circumvent state and local laws and mete out its own punishment for intrastate crimes.  Thus, if a state did not support a president’s harsh view of a given activity, federal prosecutors would effectively federalize the crime.  The dual jurisdictional problem has been raised repeatedly by defense lawyers, particularly in civil rights prosecutions are that virtually identical to state charges.  The double jeopardy claims raised in such challenges have generally failed.  This however is a straight up federalization of an arson crime that occurred within a state and only damaged state property.  That would seem a viable issue to be raised by Channon and other like her who are charged in federal court.

81 thoughts on “Tacoma Woman Arrested For Arson At Protest After Police Recognize Tattoos”

  1. I agree with your point re the “imaginative” expansion of federal jurisdiction.

    I don’t know that we’d see this but for the vacuum created by the INACTION of the State & Local officials. I say this, not based “just on the recent past”; State & Local officials, particularly State & Local officials in the large cities, have made it crystal clear they will not enforce the law against criminals who can dress their offenses up in “left wing causes.”

    The “You’re Not Even Going to Jail” card given to groups for whom these politicians have some sympathy has surrendered the field to the Feds; if they don’t act, no one will, and if no one acts, the Cities become war zones.

    Oh yeah … that’s what too many of them are right now.

  2. Does anyone have any faith that blue states/cities will actually prosecute these crimes to a sufficient level vs dismissing the charges or a slap on the wrist? It’s looking more and more that the feds are the only entities willing to back law and order. If they can use the law to go after these obvious criminals then good.

  3. Don’t let those fear mongers scare you, Chaz is a wonderful, liberating environment. The fam and I are heading over for the weekend. Great chance to make some tie-dye, play a little hackey sack, and dance to Bob Marley after 3 long months of lock downs. Hope to see you there.

  4. So, here we are debating the legal niceties of federalism while armed hoodlums holding the favored political views set fire to police cars with the open endorsement of the state government and news media.

    1. I notice that the FBI made the announcement but it was Customs and Border Patrol that actually made the catch. The FEEBS made some of their reputation stealing credit from others. Old habits.

  5. Good for you to fight for federalism!
    the federal government is making a jurisdictional claim that would effectively negate federalism principles in criminal law.

    She should be tried by the state / local laws, and that should be enough.

    Making a Federal Case out of “everything” messes the system up more than adding justice.

  6. Demonstrations should be done without the arson and looting. Bringing a city to a stop using ten thousand people pointing out that some police are racist and must go will make the point. Blowing off steam or simply running amok by torching anything and looting stores should be punished in the most severe manner. If the organizers-if there are any-of these demonstrations had half a brain amongst them, they would police their own protests. Lock her up for the maximum, to set the example. Fire the people at the top of the structures and replace them and all bad cops. There are enough good people to fill the spots. Corruption and negligence have to be weeded out.

    If there weren’t any demonstrations those cops would be ‘under investigation’ and joining other police forces. They need to be jailed and the people that kept them there sacked. It took three days of rioting to get them arrested. Tens of thousands of demonstrators without the arson and looting might have taken a few days more. Unfortunately this society needs a smack from time to time.

  7. One way to end CHAZ rather quickly would be to sneak someone through their picket lines at night, and from inside the area, proclaim that CHAZ is also a “Tax Free Autonomous Zone”, and no sales taxes, court fines, or property taxes would be collected or paid. The zone would probably be shut down before one could say, “Eric Garner” three times fast.

  8. Well it seems to me there is a simple solution to this…. Mayors and governors should do their jobs and stop making apologies and excepting the damage that the progresssive hate mobs commit. In other words they can do their jobs and have these people arrested on State and local charges. They are not doing that.n They, instead, want to get into twitter feuds with the President to enhance their national profiles while their cities burn… Sorry, your argument gets no sympathy when locals won’t hold anyone accountable.

  9. In the absence of leadership and appropriate and constitutional Congressional action, Abraham Lincoln proceeded, unilaterally, to war and suspension of Habeas Corpus to “Save the Union.” President Trump now has the same “duty” and imprimatur as Lincoln to react unilaterally to rebellion and domestic violence to “Save the Republic.”

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