A Nashville-area man was sentenced to five years in federal prison last week after being labeled "the face of the attempt to burn down City Hall," according to court filings.
Wesley Somers, 26, of Hendersonville, Tennessee, was sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Aleta A. Trauger to five years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, according to U.S. Attorney Mark H. Wildasin for the Middle District of Tennessee.
Somers was sentenced after being arrested in May 2020 by the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department (MNPD) on state arson charges. He was later charged by federal prosecutors with malicious destruction of property using fire or explosives for his role in the destruction of the Metro Courthouse, which also serves as Nashville City Hall.
"On May 30, 2020, scores of local, state and federal law enforcement officers stood ready to protect the Constitutional right of every citizen to engage in peaceful protests," Wildasin said. "Unfortunately, Somers and others interfered with a lawful assembly and resorted to violence and destructive behavior, which resulted in significant property damage and placed many at risk of harm. We will always defend the right of every individual to exercise their First Amendment liberties but will not tolerate the actions of those who choose to exploit peaceful protest by resorting to violence and intimidation."
Video clips and photos show a shirtless man identified as Somers smashing a courthouse window and setting fire to an accelerant and placing it inside the window following a peaceful May 30 protest in downtown Nashville, a release said at the time.
Several chest tattoos on Somers depicting the phrases "WILD CHILD" and "HARD 2 Love" helped authorities identify him, prosecutors said. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
The courthouse windows were smashed and fires were started inside the building during Saturday night's rioting, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported. A plaque commemorating the civil rights movement was also destroyed.
Fox News' Louis Casiano contributed to this report.