On Sunday, Metro Nashville Police and SWAT team members arrested a man in connection with a fire set at the city’s historic courthouse, according to Breitbart.
After having posted images of three suspects, police arrested 25-year-old Wesley Somers, who was subsequently charged with felony arson, vandalism, and disorderly conduct in setting the fire.
Somers was identified by members of the Nashville community who saw the images posted by the police department, according to the Tennesseean. The investigation into the arson is ongoing.
BREAKING: Specialized Investigations Division detectives & 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. pic.twitter.com/tg0AFrU3OP
— Metro Nashville PD (@MNPDNashville) June 1, 2020
Protests escalate nationwide
A total of 29 people — including Somers — were arrested after violating the city’s 10 p.m. curfew, according to a report from the Associated Press shared by SF Gate. More than 30 buildings in the city were damaged including the courthouse, and a nearby statue of a former newspaper publisher known for a history of racist viewpoints was also toppled.
Other arrests were made for assault on police officers, disorderly conduct and criminal trespassing, the AP reported. Thousands of protesters were gathered in the area, and the demonstrations turned violent as darkness fell.
Nashville was only one of a number of cities experiencing riots following on the heels of relatively peaceful protests. Other cities witnessing notable unrest over the weekend included New York City, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Dallas, St. Louis, and Detroit, according to Newsweek.
The protests began in response to the Memorial Day death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was placed into police custody and forcibly restrained.
Though Derek Chauvin — the officer who pinned Floyd’s neck down with his knee until he became unresponsive and later died — was arrested and charged with murder, large-scale demonstrations and violence have continued.
Floyd’s family decries violence
Protests in Minneapolis finally showed signs of slowing down Sunday night after police and the National Guard instituted a curfew and made hundreds of arrests, according to local NBC affiliate KARE.
The family and girlfriend of Floyd, for their part, have called for the violence to stop, saying that Floyd would be “devastated” by it.
“[He] was a gentle giant. He was about love and about peace,” girlfriend Courteney Ross said, according to People magazine. “He loved the city.”
Indeed, while peaceful protests are understandable when an injustice like the death of George Floyd is witnessed by the entire country, it has become clear that the violence that has since ensued dishonors his memory as well as the spirit in which it appears he lived.