Portland anarchist who lobbed Molotov cocktail at police car sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison

From Oregon Live

Wearing a dark blazer and tie and with his hair cut short, Sergey Yefimovich Turzhanskiy did not dress the part of an anarchist.

Instead, the 26-year-old Southeast Portland man’s voice quavered at times as he apologized to a federal judge on Monday for throwing a Molotov cocktail at a Portland police car in November 2012. The device, made out of a Pabst Blue Ribbon bottle, damaged the unoccupied 2011 Ford Crown Victoria, which was parked at the Northeast Portland precinct.

“Beyond being completely ineffective towards making a positive change … I think it had the opposite effect,” Turzhanskiy said to U.S. District Judge Marco Hernandez. “It’s the greatest mistake I ever made in my life.”

Hernandez sentenced Turzhanskiy to two-and-a-half years in federal prison for possession of an unregistered destructive device. The judge, who heard statements from three of Turzhanskiy’s supporters, said he was taking into account his remorse and the progress he has made since the incident.

The sentence matched the recommendation made by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Turzhanskiy’s lawyer as part of a plea agreement that also called for dismissal of the more serious offense of attempted arson.

Turzhanskiy, who sought to make a political statement through his actions, twice threw the device at the car before it shattered and caused a fire about 1:30 a.m. on Nov. 5, 2012, according to a sentencing memorandum by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Peifer. The incident occurred while officers were in the parking lot during a shift change, he wrote, and police quickly arrested him.

Initially, his arrest sparked support from local and national anarchist groups, the memorandum states. Turzhanskiy himself put up postings calling on supporters to “Free Sergey Turzhanskiy” and to donate to a legal defense fund, his court-appointed lawyer, Patrick Ehlers, said Monday. But that was short-lived as Ehlers told him to take them down and Turzhanskiy recognized it was a “stupid action,” Ehlers said.

In his statement to Hernandez, Turzhanskiy said that after spending time in jail, he developed a better appreciation for the work of law enforcement and the stresses officers face. He also said he and his wife hope to build a photography business – the “first time I had something” to work toward.

He added that he does not want to be known for his actions. “I’m trying to make sure people realize it’s not something to be admired. It’s not something for justice,” he said, adding that any efforts he undertakes for social justice will “come in the form of lifting people up.”

He has already paid $1,314.12 in restitution to police for the damage to the car.

Hernandez ordered him to report for the start of his prison sentence May 30. He is also to serve three years of supervised release after he completes his prison term and he is not to have any contact or communication with anarchist groups.