[Opinion] A man arrested for arson, and suspected of a recent assault of a Seattle police officer, has been identified as 19-year-old Jacob Greenberg, stepson of Washington State former legislator Laura Ruderman.

Greenberg was arrested for arson during riots in late September. According to court documents, he was participating in the violent activity of an anarchist group called “Every Night Direct Demonstration” (ENDD). The rioters marched from a Seattle park to downtown, destroying private property and a police car along the way, and created a barricade outside the East Precinct out of trash cans and dumpsters, blocking an intersection.

The dumpsters were set on fire and authorities arrested a man they saw “squirting what appeared to be lighter fluid onto the dumpsters and trash cans.”

“Each time he squirted the liquid, the flames instantly grew larger until they consumed the dumpsters, cans and nearly one third of the length of the intersection and reached seven to eight feet high,” reported Officer Stephen Knapp.

Greenberg is also a suspect in an attack on the East Precinct building on September 1st, in which Molotov cocktails were thrown over the fence “in an attempt to set it on fire with officers inside.”

Finally, authorities are investigating whether Greenberg is the man who attacked a police officer with a baseball bat in a video that has since gone viral.

In the video, a man dressed all in black approached a police officer from behind and struck the officer in the head with a baseball bat. Authorities searched Greenberg’s home and found a baseball bat and an outfit matching the one in the video.

According to the Seattle Police Department, if it were not for the helmet, the officer could have been critically injured or killed.

Former member of the Washington State House of Representatives, Laura Ruderman vouched for her stepson at his hearing before a judge on September 28th. “He is basically a good kid, straight ‘A’ student,” she said of him. “I’ve served in the legislature. We will make sure he follows all the provision.”

Ruderman was a Democrat state representative who served in the Legislature from 1999 through 2005. She served on the Technology, Telecommunications, and Energy Committee as Vice Chair, and on the Appropriations, Rules, and Health Care Committees.

The King County prosecutor’s office requested that bail be set at $350,000, but the judge set it at $20,000. Greenberg has since been released and is scheduled to return to court at a later date.

Police objected to the release due to Greenberg’s regular activity in riots. “There is a high probability that Greenberg will commit additional arson and add to the nightly violent riots in Seattle if released,” said Officer Stephen Knapp.

There are growing concerns among the public that rioters who vandalize and destroy property and engage in other acts of violence are not being held accountable for their actions. Casey McNerthney of the King County Prosecutor’s Office came to the defense of her office in a statement:

“It’s understandable that people in Seattle look at the vandalism, property destruction and violence and say, ‘what’s happening here?’ The most difficult part I think is for people who don’t understand the court system, who don’t realize that the prosecutor’s office wants to hold people who commit violent acts in jail. Ultimately whether somebody stays in jail or not at a first appearance is up to a judge.”

Greenberg’s attorney claims that the police have the wrong person in their investigation into the assault. “Let’s remember what the police think they have, is that in this chaotic situation with dozens, hundreds of people that have very generic clothing, that doesn’t mean they have the right person. They made a snap judgment.”

Caitlin Bassett

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