Federal authorities in Camden charged an Atlantic City man Thursday with using social media to participate in and encourage rioting after investigators reviewed posts and video on his Facebook page.
The charge against Carlos A. Matchett stemmed from events Sunday night in Atlantic City, where hundreds gathered to protest the killing of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white officer was recorded pressing his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.
There were 17 arrests in Atlantic City that night, according to local officials, but Matchett is the first person in the Philadelphia area to face federal charges in connection with the unrest. U.S. Attorney General William Barr said Thursday at a news conference that the FBI has arrested 51 people nationwide.
Matchett had his initial court appearance a Zoom video conference Thursday afternoon from the Salem County Intake Facility. He was ordered detained by U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen M. Williams until a bail hearing on Tuesday and is being represented by public defender Margaret Moy.
He told the judge he lived in a condo in Atlantic City that was owned by his father. Assistant U.S. Attorney Gabriel Vidoni told the judge the government would seek to detain Matchett “on the ground of danger.”
The Atlantic City protest Sunday lasted for hours, as hundreds marched around the city and ultimately gathered at the steps of the Public Safety Building, but then led into hours of looting and vandalism at the city’s Tanger Outlets, known as the Walk, and elsewhere in the city.
According to a criminal complaint, police arrested Matchett at the scene around 8:30 p.m., after a curfew had been imposed, and confiscated a folding knife, a hatchet, and a jar containing what appeared to be gasoline.
The complaint said Matchett was observed in the middle of the street shouting obscenities at law enforcement and “enticing persons around him to join in looting.”
The 30-year-old’s Facebook page contains a post stating “LETS START a RIOT," with video of activity from Philadelphia, about two hours before he was arrested.The complaint says the page also shows a video Matchett allegedly filmed showing him urging people to enter smashed storefronts at the Walk to loot.
The charge carries a maximum prison term of five years and a $250,000 fine.