Atlanta man accused of arson, inciting a riot during 1st night of protests granted bond

Dramerius Jeffries

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

An Atlanta man charged with arson, damaging property and inciting a riot during the city’s first night of demonstrations last month was granted bond Friday afternoon.

Dramerius Jeffries faces several charges in connection with the May 29 protests after he was seen standing on a burning police car and a defaced sign outside the CNN Center, authorities said.

Those charges include arson, inciting a riot, criminal damage to property, reckless conduct and obstruction of law enforcement by using threats or violence, Fulton County Jail records show.

An Atlanta police car was set on fire outside the CNN Center during the first night of protests last month.

Credit: ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM

Credit: ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM

Jeffries was taken into custody Thursday at an Atlanta apartment complex by the U.S. Marshals Service, authorities said in a news release.

An agency spokesman said officials began searching for Jeffries earlier this month at the request of Atlanta police. They were reportedly given several photographs that showed Jeffries standing atop the burning police car with a stolen riot shield. He was also seen standing on the damaged CNN sign, authorities said.

The marshals service did not say whether those photos came from nearby surveillance cameras, social media posts or media coverage of the demonstrations, only that they were provided by police.

“The officers who witnessed him committing the felonies were unable to arrest him at the scene as Jeffries was surrounded by a violent mob,” said Jim Joyner, commander of the U.S. Marshals Service’s Southeast regional fugitive task force.

The damage at the CNN Center followed what had been a peaceful protest in response to the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. Floyd's death sparked weeks of national demonstrations and calls for an end to police violence against Black people.

Atlanta’s first night of demonstrations devolved into widespread looting and destruction, however. By morning, dozens of businesses had been burglarized between downtown Atlanta and Buckhead, and National Guard troops were called in to assist police.

Authorities arrested more than 530 people through the first eight nights of protests, most for minor offenses such as violating the mayor’s curfew and blocking the roadway, AJC.com previously reported. Some face more serious charges, including weapons possession, smash-and-grab burglary and inciting a riot, according to police.

RELATED: 532 arrests made through 8 days of Atlanta protests

Joyner declined to say whether marshals are searching for additional suspects accused of destroying property during the Atlanta protests.

“If needed discussions and conversations between the community and law enforcement are to be had, acts such as what Jeffries is charged with only impede them,” Joyner said, adding that violence “unrightfully taints” the message of peaceful protesters.

Jeffries was granted a $19,500 bond during a hearing Friday afternoon, but remains held at Fulton County Jail, records show.

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