Josh Williams was one of the youngest participants during the 2014 protests in Ferguson, MO yet he’s serving one of the longest sentences tied to them.

Williams, 20, is currently five months into an eight-year prison sentence in Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre, MO. According to the Huffington Post, he pleaded guilty to charges of first-degree arson, second-degree burglary and a misdemeanor for stealing in Dec. 2015. 

Williams had never been incarcerated before starting his sentence and played a role in social activism in the community, having marched with Dr. Cornel West and Rev. Al Sharpton while not hesitating to confront authorities and public figures. He plans to continue his efforts during and after his sentence.

“Prior to everything, I had been working with youth and that’s still in my heart,” Williams said. “I’m going to continue to fight for other people in the the world.”

“The protesters came to support me and he didn’t like that, so he gave me eight years,” Williams said, commenting on what many feel was a harsher sentence meant to make him an example to keep other demonstrators in line.

During the Ferguson protests, some chose to loot a nearby QuikTrip convenience store. This is when Williams was caught on video attempting to light a fire near the door. As a result, he was arrested on Dec. 26, 2014 with a bond set at $30,000.

Those that new Williams in the time leading up to protests claim that he was heavily interested in gospel and didn’t quite fit in as well with his peers. Due to a strained relationship with his mother, Williams was either staying with friends or on the streets during the protests.

“Although I’m in here, I’m still fighting in here. Keep strong with it and I’ll be out soon,” Williams said to HuffPost.

If he serves his complete sentence instead of the minimum 6 1/2 years, Williams will be freed in 2023.

Photo Courtesy: Twitter