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Woman convicted on federal anti-riot charge for smashing window of police vehicle

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    MOBILE, Alabama (WALA) — A federal jury in Mobile found a woman guilty of violating an anti-rioting statute.

Tia Pugh was arrested in May 2020 after she smashed the window of an unoccupied Mobile Police vehicle during a downtown protest.

It was nearly a year ago — May 31, 2021 — Pugh participated in protest in the Port City following the death of George Floyd, where she smashed the window of an unoccupied Mobile Police vehicle with a baseball bat.

The crime landed her a federal charge for “impeding law enforcement officials in a manner that impacted interstate commerce.”

“We think the evidence was not sufficient to meet the elements of a federal charge but the jury saw it differently than we hoped they would,” said Gordon Armstrong, Pugh’s attorney.

Armstrong even thought the actual video of the crime might help the case — but says ultimately it was where the crime happened that was the “critical issue.”

“The fact of the location right there at the on-ramp — that was probably what made the difference if interstate commerce was impacted as opposed to if it happened on Dauphin Street or right here on St. Joseph or somewhere else,” said Armstrong.

All along Armstrong has argued the case should have stayed in state court — even calling it an “over charge.”

“It never should have been here… Now she’s looking at a felony that will follow her the rest of her life for what in state court is a misdemeanor offense that she would have had to pay restitution,” said Armstrong. “Because basically she broke a window – and make her pay restitution… for the window, which she never denied and put her under some form of supervision and let her move on with her life.”

Pugh faces a maximum of five years in prison, although the actual punishment likely would be far less under advisory sentencing guidelines.

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