2 men accused of inciting riot in social media post, released from jail
Two men arrested Thursday morning, accused of inciting riot have been released without prejudice from the Sedgwick County Jail, according to the online inmate log.
Police arrested Michael Boston and Rashawn Mayes in connection to a post that went viral on social media encouraging others to meet at 21st and Arkansas at 7 p.m. and then traveling to other parts of Sedgwick County and engaging in violent behavior.
Wichita City Councilman Brandon Johnson posted a video on Facebook Live Thursday afternoon about the men's arrest and release.
"I was made aware of the arrest. I started getting phone calls, I saw the KWCH article," said Johnson. "Two young Black men being arrested for sharing information that we all saw. Probably 1.4 thousand or so shares on that same information. Those young men were arrested for that."
The councilman said he will continue to work through why the men were arrested and "what the real evidence is."
Neither Boston nor Mayes made official statements following their release from jail Thursday, but Boston did say it was a misunderstanding.
Mayes' family says he only re-posted a screen grab of the social media threat to warn others of the viral post and did not create it.
"For them to single him out like he's some criminal and that he's some terrorist young man that's out here terrorizing the state of Kansas or Sedgwick County or Park City, is a disgrace, it is," says Mayes' aunt, Siaana Storey. "And like I said, we will know and see how this ends up. And it won't be in their best interest because (police) know they were wrong for what they did."
A Wichita police spokesperson said police need to do further investigation into the case, which has not been presented to the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office.
Sedgwick County DA Marc Bennett says whether or not Boston and Mayes face formal charges in this case depends on the facts and what the Wichita Police Department finds in its investigation.
"A cop on the street can made a determination to take someone into custody on probable cause. That does not mean they ever see a court room," Bennett explains. "They may never be charged officially."
The Wichita Police Department (WPD) has arrested 20-year-old Michael Boston Jr. of Wichita and 19-year-old Rashawn Mayes of Park City, both on charges of incitement to riot.
On Wednesday, the WPD received information about a social media post encouraging others to meet at 21st and Arkansas at 7 p.m. and then traveling to other parts of Sedgwick County and engaging in violent behavior.
The investigation revealed Boston and Mayes were responsible for the post that was shared thousands of times throughout Sedgwick County and surrounding areas, causing fear and panic to citizens and business owners, police say.
On Wednesday evening, officers located Boston and Mayes, and they were arrested without incident.
“Those who promote and engage in violence will be arrested,” Chief Gordon Ramsay said. “They will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, including federal charges.”
The investigation is ongoing, and the case will be presented to the United States Attorney’s Office.
A post going around social media Wednesday drew concern about threats of violence and damage to Wichita area communities including Bel Aire, Park City and Valley Center.
In Park City, police put up barricades outside city hall. Early in the evening, more officers showed up to the city building, including multiple Sedgwick County Sheriff's deputies.
Police from Wichita and surrounding communities say they're aware of the social media post creating the concern and have plans in place in case anyone tries to instigate violence. Local businesses were also notified of the threat and took precautions.
Wichita police say they are investigating who might be behind the threat and believe it is someone in the area.
The threat comes after businesses around Wichita were vandalized Tuesday night. A night after a group looted the Quik Trip at 21st and Arkansas, the business boarded up the store to keep it from happening again.
Wichita police say multiple agencies are working together Wednesday night to keep everyone safe.
"There is a lot of stuff going around on social media. You know, some of it is people toying with others," WPD Chief Gordon Ramsay says. "But we are prepared and we are ready to deal with anything that comes along. We are going to keep this city safe and aggressively go after those that are victimizing our neighborhoods and businesses."
Many local departments say they are full staffed Wednesday night, or are calling in more officers to help if the situation turns violent in any of their communities.