Wesley Somers, 25, is facing federal arson charges after allegedly trying to set the Nashville City Hall on fire during a protest Saturday night.
Protesters gathered in downtown Nashville Saturday for a demonstration against the death of George Floyd, who died while in police custody. Later that night, the Nashville City Hall, also called the Metro Courthouse, was destroyed when protesters smashed windows and set several fires in the building, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Nashville SWAT officers moments ago arrested Wesley Somers, 25, on charges of felony arson, vandalism, & disorderly conduct for setting fire to Nashville’s Historic Courthouse Saturday night – MNPD pic.twitter.com/y5FchQaL4J
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) June 1, 2020
Videos emerged from the incident that appear to show Somers attempting to break the windows of the Courthouse and lighting an object on fire and putting it in the window of the building, the DOJ press release says. Somers has distinct tattoos reading “wild child” and “hard 2 love” that can be seen in the videos.
Somers was arrested Sunday by the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department. (RELATED: Tucker Carlson Condemns ‘Lynch Mobs’ Designed To ‘Subvert Our Justice System’)
“We will always vigorously defend the right of every individual to assemble and protest. This is one of our most sacred liberties guaranteed by the First Amendment of our Constitution,” U.S. Attorney Don Cochran for the Middle District of Tennessee said in the press release. “We will also vigorously pursue those who choose to exploit such assemblies and use violence and intimidation in order to change the dynamics of an otherwise peaceful protest.”
Somers is now facing federal charges of malicious destruction of property using fire or explosives, and if convicted, could face up to 20 years in prison.
“The Department of Justice will vindicate the First Amendment rights of all Americans to speak, assemble and seek a redress of grievances from their government,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said according to the DOJ. “We cannot tolerate, however, those who would take advantage of moments of real anguish to endanger the innocent and destroy their property.”