SAN DIEGO (CNS) -- A San Diego man who allegedly had Molotov cocktails in his possession at last month's La Mesa police brutality protest is facing federal charges, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Tuesday.
Zachary Alexander Karas, 28, is charged with possession of an unregistered destructive device for allegedly having two glass bottles containing gasoline and wicks while at the protest, which began May 30 and carried over into the morning of May 31.
According to the charging document, officers spotted Karas and his girlfriend sitting on the pavement at the corner of Allison Avenue and Spring Street at around 2 a.m. May 31.
Karas was arrested for not leaving the area after dispersal orders were given by law enforcement, following the declaration of an unlawful assembly, according to the complaint.
In an interview with law enforcement, Karas allegedly said "he brought the Molotov cocktails to the protest at the police station because he intended to use the Molotov cocktails to set fires, but ultimately did not cause any fires."
Fires were set at the Chase and Union Bank branches and Randall Lamb Associates building near the site of the protest, but the complaint does not allege Karas set any of the fires sparked following the protest.
"The Constitution strongly protects the First Amendment right of all to speak out and peacefully protest," said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer. "My office is committed to protecting that First Amendment right.
"Violence, however, by a relatively small number of opportunists who sought to wreak havoc, destroy property, and threaten the safety of peaceful protesters will not be tolerated."