Man who set Metro Courthouse on fire sentenced to prison

Posted at 3:24 PM, Mar 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-19 17:30:22-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A federal judge sentenced the man accused of setting fire to the Metro Courthouse during summer 2020 while protests happened in downtown Nashville.

U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger sentenced Wesley Somers, 26 of Hendersonville, to five years in federal prison.

Authorities charged Somers in a complaint following the protests in Nashville that evolved around George Floyd's death. A police officer killed Floyd during an incident in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Somers and others gathered in front of the Metro Courthouse and started smashing windows and spraying graffiti, police said. Part of that also included the courthouse being set on fire.

"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," U.S. Attorney Mark H. 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."

Records filed with the Court also indicate that after Somers was arrested and booked into the Davidson County Jail, he reveled in his newfound fame and related during a phone call that he was a celebrity among other inmates and had been nicknamed “Protest.”

Court records revealed video clips and photography related to the fire depicted Somers as lighting a sign on fire and placing it through the window, spraying accelerant into the fire.

Police said they tethered Somers to the case through tips from citizens.

Somers was soon identified by the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department – Specialized Investigation Division, after receiving numerous tips from citizens.