White man arrested for setting fire to historic Nashville courthouse during protests over police killing of George Floyd

James Crump
Wesley Somers pictured after he was arrested for arson: (Metro Nashville Police Department - Twitter)

A white man has been arrested by the Metro Nashville Police Department, and charged with attempting to set fire to the city’s Historic Courthouse, amid protests in response to the death of George Floyd.

The authorities announced that they had arrested 25-year-old Wesley Somers, on Monday, via their Twitter page.

The department has been using Twitter to update the community on the peaceful protests, that a minority of residents have used to cause destruction to property.

“Wesley Somers was arrested at a home on Manzano Road in Madison. Assistance from the community helped lead to his identification,” the post read.

“He will be booked into the Metro Jail shortly. The investigation into the arson attack on the Historic Courthouse and other vandalism is continuing.”

The department confirmed that Mr Somers had been arrested “on charges of felony arson, vandalism, & disorderly conduct for setting fire to Nashville’s Historic Courthouse Saturday night.”

During the protests on Saturday, a few people entered the courthouse and smashed windows, spray-painted graffiti on the walls and attempted to set fire to the building.

On Sunday, the authorities appealed to the public to help them find the suspects who attempted to set the courthouse on fire and caused damage to the property.

“Nashville’s Historic Courthouse was the site of arson, burglary and vandalism Sat night. Tear gas was deployed to disperse the crowd. Do you know any of these 3 persons? Please call Crime Stoppers anonymously and receive a cash reward,” the post read.

With the public’s help, the department was able to locate Mr Somers, but they confirmed they are still looking for two more suspects.

A curfew was in effect over the weekend in Nashville, after a minority of people turned protests violent, and the city’s mayor, John Cooper, announced on Monday that it will stay in place until Tuesday morning and will be reviewed daily.

Peaceful protests have taken place in cities across the US, including in Nashville, in opposition to police brutality against black Americans, after Mr Floyd died on 25 May, when former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck while detaining him.

On Monday, the mayor said he supported equality for the city’s black community, but criticised the violence and destruction of property that a minority of its residents took part in.

He said: “We will not let their behaviour distract us from the work we must do for equal justice for Nashville’s black community.”

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