First riot charge will not be the last, says prosecutor

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The first person to be charged for rioting Saturday night into Sunday morning in downtown Grand Rapids has been charged but he certainly will not be the last.

On Monday morning, 18-year-old Adrian Baker of Gobles was charged with the 10-year felony in Grand Rapids District Court.

Judge Michael Distel explained the charge to the teen.

“You did while in concert with five or more other persons wrongfully engage in violent conduct and thereby recklessly cause or create a serious risk of causing public terror or alarm,” Distel told Baker, who was appearing via video from the Kent County Jail.

>>TIMELINE: Rioters damage Grand Rapids buildings, set fires

Baker is also charged with destruction of property under $200 and larceny of a sign, all of which allegedly took place at the Biggby Coffee at 146 Monroe Center NW.

Because he has no criminal record, the court services evaluator recommended a personal recognizance bond which would have allowed Baker out of jail with no bond, but the judge had other ideas.

“The court has concerns about a PR bond based upon the nature of the charges and the circumstances associated with these charges, the court has community safety concerns,” Distel said.

The judge set a $5,000 bond which clearly had an impact on the teen suspect.

“I need to be able to get numbers, I need to be able to, I have no numbers here memorized, I don’t have anybody to reach out to help me with this bond,” Baker stammered. “I thought I would be able to go out and get a job and start working and get money to pay this and I’m sorry it didn’t happen that way.”

“I want to be able to get this done, I don’t want to be here, I’m 18, I have no way to get money,” Baker said.

But the judge did not relent.

The 10-year felony charge was authorized by Kent County Prosecutor Christopher Becker, who said he has never issued the charge in his 25 years with the office.

“The facts warrant it, given what happened here, that was a riot,” Becker said.

And there are more rioting charges to come.

“It could be hundreds, it could be, if we don’t build a case, it could be a dozen,” Becker said.

He said there has been significant evidence coming in from numerous sources, including the Grand Rapids Police online evidence portal, from the dozens of videos and the many witnesses.

“A lot of people were quite unnerved by what happened and taking a peaceful protest and turning it into something like this,” Becker said.

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