Cleveland Man Sentenced to Prison for Starting Fire in Rebol Restaurant During May 30 Demonstrations and Unrest in Downtown Cleveland

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Acting U.S. Attorney Michelle M. Baeppler announced that Michael Sloan, 27, of Cleveland, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge J. Philip Calabrese to 43 months, or more than three and a half years, in prison after Sloan pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit arson during the May 30, 2020, demonstrations and civil unrest in downtown Cleveland.

“Hijacking a constitutionally-protected assembly in order to pursue a personal agenda that included arson and destruction of property is a corruption of our rights and freedoms,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Michelle M. Baeppler.  “Those who cause violence, chaos and destruction of property will be held accountable.”

“As Americans, we all have the right to participate in peaceful protests,” stated Travis S. Riddle, Acting Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Columbus Field Division.  “That is not what happened here. The defendant set fire to a business to spread chaos and fear, and he is being held accountable for that violent act upon our community.”

According to court documents, on May 30, 2020, Sloan participated in a demonstration in downtown Cleveland to protest the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Later that day, Sloan arrived outside of Rebol restaurant, which had already been damaged and looted.  Video recordings taken from that day showed Sloan entering and exiting Rebol restaurant multiple times over the course of twenty minutes and conversing with unknown persons outside of the restaurant.  According to court documents, Sloan’s actions in this twenty-minute period included surveying the scene inside Rebol, conspiring to set a fire and actually setting a fire on Rebol’s east service counter.

Video recordings showed Sloan starting and then feeding the fire with napkins, papers and other combustibles.  Video also showed Sloan continuing to feed the fire for several minutes until the fire began burning without the need for additional fuel and created a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury.  Cleveland Police arrived several minutes later and extinguished the fire before it could do additional damage.  Sloan fled the area on foot.

Investigators later identified Sloan as the subject who caused the fire thanks, in part, to tips received from the public after images and video were released to the media.

This investigation was conducted by the ATF with the assistance of the Cleveland Police Department.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Adam J. Joines and Suzana K. Koch.