Metro Courthouse arson suspect’s brother-in-law says they intended to protest peacefully

Local News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The brother-in-law of Wesley Somers who is facing felony arson charges for setting fire to the Metro Courthouse says they intended to protest peacefully.

“We went down there strictly for a peaceful protest and it turned violent and then it just, everything kind of just unraveled the way it did,” Jesse Clark told News 2.

Several of Clark’s friends went downtown to take part in the ‘I Will Breathe’ rally, he says when violence overtook the message.

“It was literally like it was out of a movie, it was absolutely insane.”

Clark admitted that he broke windows of the courthouse.

“Oh yeah, oh yeah I was definitely part of that, there’s several hundred other people [that were] part of it,” Clark said.

Violence erupted, he said when police used unnecessary force.

“Essentially, there was like multiple people fighting the police and that’s when things started getting crazy and they started lighting the courthouse on fire and things like that,” said Clark.

He said Somers who is seen clearly in photos at the courthouse fire scene took part in the blaze, but Clark says that he shouldn’t take all the blame. “I don’t think he’s the one that should be getting the book thrown at him, because he’s not the one that started.”

Clark said that Somers, who has a lengthy criminal record including domestic assault and drug charges, had turned his life around and that their actions were not organized.  

“He’s definitely not part of a white supremacist group. We went down there as individuals. He’s not getting paid, I see this stuff all over the internet. I know we was not part of that. It just turned violent and next thing I know we were in a crowd that was rioting. It just kind of happened. I don’t know what else to say about it, nothing was planned, nothing was organized, it wasn’t like we were going down there to hurt people.”

Clark said their group of friends didn’t take part in vandalizing or looting any of the downtown businesses, but that he wouldn’t be surprised if he faces charges himself.

The latest on the protests and riots following the “I Will Breathe” rally in Nashville:

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