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Three accused of conspiring to spark violence during protests in Las Vegas

Three accused of conspiring to spark violence during protests in Las Vegas
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Three Nevada men with ties to right-wing extremists have been arrested and charged with attempting to incite violence during protests in Las Vegas over the death of George Floyd.

The Associated Press reported that the men face a host of federal and state charges after being arrested on the way to a protest in downtown Las Vegas with Molotov cocktails and unregistered firearms. The men reportedly planned to instigate a riot by causing destruction at a peaceful protest in the city.

“People have a right to peacefully protest. These men are agitators and instigators. Their point was to hijack the protests into violence,” U.S. Attorney Nicholas Trutanich told the AP.

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The men are reportedly charged with terrorism, felony conspiracy and explosive possession charges in state court, and also face unregistered firearm charges as well as charges of conspiracy to cause damage by fire or explosive in federal court.

Law enforcement says one of the men arrested, 40-year-old William Loomis, expressed plans to an undercover agent to target a power substation. Undercover agents first made contact with the men at a rally earlier this year against coronavirus restrictions put in place by Nevada's state government, authorities said.

“Loomis stated he wanted to target a power substation and wanted to throw a type of ‘firebomb’ or incendiary to cause destruction,” reads the federal complaint, according to the AP.

Though the majority of arrests at protests have been locals, state leaders around the country have warned of the possibility of outside agitators inciting violence at rallies. The violence and vandalism has prompted accusations from the right that leftist groups like antifa are stoking the flames, while some on the left have floated the idea that white supremacists are behind the escalation.