FARGO — A second man has been sentenced in federal court for a May 2020 riot in downtown Fargo that left dozens of law enforcement officers injured and caused property damage to multiple buildings.
U.S. District Court Judge Peter Welte ordered Jonathan Montanez, 31, of Moorhead on Friday, April 2, to serve two years in federal prison. Montanez pleaded guilty to civil disorder in connection to the downtown May 30 riot.
Montanez jumped on top of an occupied Fargo Police car as protesters who sought justice for George Floyd turned violent. He slammed his fists onto the squad vehicle and caused extensive damage, according to court documents.
“Jonathan Montanez took personal advantage of what was supposed to be a peaceful protest that day, to engage in criminal activity,” FBI Minneapolis Special Agent in Charge Michael Paul said in a Monday statement.
Montanez’s actions also provoked other protesters to become violent and destructive, resulting in serious injuries and thousands of dollars in damage to the downtown businesses.
The protests started peacefully earlier on May 30 as thousands marched from downtown Fargo into West Fargo. While in West Fargo, a protester was hit and seriously injured by a vehicle.
Advocates of the protests claimed the crash sparked the downtown riots. Protesters returned downtown and surrounded two Fargo police squad vehicles. As protesters threw projectiles, Montanez and Errick Steven Toa, 31, of Fargo, jumped on the police vehicles, prosecutors alleged. Toa, who pleaded guilty to civil disorder and is slated to be sentenced next week, smashed a police vehicle’s windshield with his foot, a criminal complaint alleged.
Police ordered protesters to disperse shortly after that. Several hours later, law enforcement deployed tear gas. Rioters then smashed several windows, set a dumpster on fire and looted a JL Beers restaurant on First Avenue North.
Abdimanan Bana Habib, 22, of Fargo, was the third person charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in North Dakota with the rare federal crime. He avoided additional jail time after admitting he threw rocks at officers and attempted to light a bottle on fire so he could throw it at law enforcement.
Roughly two dozen people were charged in Cass County District Court in connection to the riots. A jury acquitted at least one person, and another was found not guilty due to incompetency to stand trial.