Far-Left Journalist Arrested in Connection with Anti-Police Firebombing


A far-left journalist working in Arkansas was among four suspects arrested last week in connection with firebombings of police vehicles amid Black Lives Matter protests over the summer.

Left-wing journalist Renea Baek Goddard is alleged to be associated with a group of three people who tossed a Molotov cocktail at an Arkansas State Police vehicle on Aug. 28 at state police headquarters. A fourth person allegedly helped toss Molotov cocktails toward Little Rock Police Department vehicles outside a department substation during a protest on Aug. 25.

Goddard has interned for Arkansas Public Media, reported for KUAR Public Radio and contributed to LGBT magazine Autostraddle, according to her LinkedIn and Medium pages.

“As more and more white supremacists try to rebrand themselves, journalists have a responsibility to be vigilant,” she wrote in a column for Truthout in 2019. “There needs to be an end to this farce that neutrality necessitates taking a centrist position.”

Her personal website, meanwhile, says that she “focuses on local and state news, but she also enjoys writing commentary on issues like mass incarceration, U.S militarism, and identity politics,” and “is interested in advocacy journalism.”

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After a months-long investigation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Arkansas alleged that Goddard, Brittany Jeffrey, Emily Nowlin and Aline Espinosa-Villegas were responsible for the targeted attacks on the police vehicles.

Goddard, Nowlin and Espinosa-Villegas are being charged in connection with the Aug. 28 incident, during which they also allegedly slashed police car tires, while Jeffrey is being charged for allegedly helping to carry out the Aug. 25 attack.

“Today’s arrests send a message that violence targeted toward law enforcement will not be tolerated,” U.S. Attorney Cody Hiland said in a statement.

“Breaking into a police compound and fire bombing a police vehicle with a homemade explosive device is clearly not a peaceful protest.”

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He added, “Those who would target law enforcement with violent acts will not do so in the Eastern District of Arkansas without the full resources of the federal government being deployed to assist our state and local partners in bringing those responsible to justice. They will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Goddard had been previously arrested and charged with obstructing government operations while violating a local curfew during a protest on June 2, The Post-Millenial reported.

The other three suspects have also been linked to far-left activism.

Jeffrey reportedly live-streamed her arrest on Facebook, and the video showed her refusing to exit her car until the officers told her what the federal warrant was for, according to The Post-Millennial.

The video ended after her phone was confiscated, and she has since been released from police custody, the outlet reported.

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Jeffrey has led other Black Lives Matter protests following the death of George Floyd and has been arrested a number of times.

Espinosa-Villegas, a transgender Chilean national, has also been arrested multiple times following protests and was being held at Pulaski County Detention Center without bond on federal charges, according to The Post-Millenial.

Nowlin faces charges of misdemeanor disorderly conduct, in addition to the firebombing charges, for allegedly blocking traffic during a June 2 protest.

The four defendants made their first court appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joe Volpe on Dec. 17.

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith