PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A West Philadelphia activist arrested last month for allegedly torching a Philadelphia police car in May during the George Floyd protests has been released on bail. U.S. Attorney William McSwain confirmed Monday night Anthony Smith will be on house arrest until his trial.
Smith, who is a social studies teacher at Youthbuild Charter School and activist in the Philadelphia community, is facing arson and other federal charges related to the burning of a Philadelphia police car during the riots that erupted near City Hall on May 30.
McSwain says Smith is facing seven years minimum behind bars for the alleged crime.
“Anthony Smith will be electronically monitored at his home (ankle bracelet) until trial,” McSwain tweeted. “He is facing a 7 year minimum sentence for allegedly torching a police car in Philly.”
Anthony Smith will be electronically monitored at his home (ankle bracelet) until trial. He is facing a 7 year minimum sentence for allegedly torching a police car in Philly. If you engage in this type of behavior, it doesn’t matter who you are – you will face the consequences.
— US Attorney William M. McSwain (@USAttyMcSwain) November 10, 2020
McSwain said violence in the name of protests will not be tolerated.
“If you engage in this type of behavior, it doesn’t matter who you are – you will face the consequences,” McSwain said.
McSwain said last month videos taken during the protests helped law enforcement identify several suspects after the police vehicles were set on fire.
Smith was profiled in Philadelphia Magazine’s list of Influential Citizens for his role in helping to topple the Rizzo Statue that was formerly in front of the Philadelphia Municipal Services Building. He self-identified his participation in the magazine’s article.
Smith also has a civil rights lawsuit against the City of Philadelphia after the police response to protests and looting in West Philadelphia from earlier this year.
Smith’s attorney calls the arson charges politically motivated.
“To charge him federally, I think is outrageous and as I said, it’s another example of the political overreach by the federal government,” attorney Paul Hetznecker said.
McSwain denies that.
“Mr. Smith was not in any way targeted by my office. I knew nothing about Mr. Smith or his affiliations until the investigation was nearly complete,” McSwain said. “We do not investigate people at the U.S. Attorney’s Office. We investigate alleged criminal behavior.”
Each suspect faces a minimum of seven years in federal prison if found guilty.
MORE ON CBSPHILLY.COM