Police allege that Schinzing was part of a group of 30 protesters who broke into the building and trashed the building while starting fires. The surveillance camera however captured both his image and his ink job.
Police spotted Schinzing among several hundred people in North Portland’s Peninsula Park earlier in the evening on May 29 who marched to the Justice Center. Schinzing was in the front and at one point took off his shirt — exposing his tattoo.
In the meantime, three civilian county employees had to flee from the Multnomah County Sheriff’s corrections records office “as the windows were broken,” according to Cynthia M. Chang, a fire investigator with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The police found a match on the tattoo with a booking photo, but of course the tattoo itself offered a usual clue as to his identity.
Schinzing is facing a federal not a state charge despite the fact that the fire targeted a city office and the crime is clearly localized. 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 and uses federal grant monies. 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.
I still view these cases as more properly handled as state offenses. The use of federal charges in protest cases is a continuation of the federalization of the criminal code. It is a trend that is inimical to federalism principles which recognize the states as having the primary police power role.
The difference is significant for these defendants. The federal courts tend to impose longer sentences. The maximum for federal arson is 20 years in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of five years.