85% of Those Arrested in Nashville After Saturday Riot Were from Local Metropolitan Area

Broken windows littered Nashville's famous Broadway Street, known for its many honky tonks, on Sunday, May 31, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn. A peaceful demonstration had turned violent the night before, where some smashed glass and others lit fires in the downtown area. (AP Photo/Kimberlee Kruesi)
Kimberlee Kruesi/AP Photo

Eighty-five percent of those arrested in the immediate aftermath of the riot in Nashville, Tennessee, on Saturday night/Sunday morning, or 24 out of the 28 arrested, were from the Metropolitan Nashville area, according to a press release from the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department (MNPD).

According to the MNPD, 15 of those arrested listed Nashville residences, nine listed residences within the Metropolitan Nashville area (Madison, Antioch, Hendersonville, Brentwood, and Clarksville), one listed a residence within Tennessee but outside of Metropolitan Nashville, and three were from out-of-state (Buffalo, New York, Chicago, Illinois, and Arlington, Texas).

More than half of those arrested—15—were under the age of 30. Seven were between the ages of 30 and 39, two were between the ages of 40 and 49, and three were between the ages of 50 and 59. One 61-year-old man was arrested for public intoxication, the only one of the 28 arrested who faced that charge.

Twenty-three of those arrested were males, while just five were females.

Nineteen of those arrested were charged with disorderly conduct, and two were charged with assault on an officer. One each were charged with assault on officer/resisting arrest, disorderly conduct/resisting arrest, disorderly conduct/possession of a handgun, burglary, and criminal trespass. One 17-year-old male, whose name was redacted, was arrested for violating the 10 p.m. curfew announced by Metro Nashville/Davidson County Mayor John Cooper, a Democrat, late Saturday night.

Elected mayor in September of last year, Cooper is the brother of Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN-05), who represents the area in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Damage from the riot was significant, as NewsChannel5 reported:

Protests turned into damage, destruction and vandalism, affecting businesses across the lower Downtown area, from fires set in the Courthouse to businesses broken into and looted across historic Broadway.

The violence began soon after a march immediately following a large downtown rally, but the tipping point came after protesters set several fires in and outside the Metro Courthouse. Around 8 p.m., our Sky 5 cameras captured several people trying to start fires inside windows which were broken hours earlier.

Several minutes later, police arrived and sprayed what appears to be tear gas to disperse the crowd and blocked access to the front of the Courthouse. For the next hour many protesters remained there, some tearing down lamp posts. Police soon used additional tear gas to push the crowd out of the area – first to the sidewalk, then across the street.

The riot began Saturday shortly after a “peaceful” rally at the Legislative Plaza in downtown Nashville at which Cooper spoke dispersed.

Earlier that morning, Cooper publicly invited all 40 members of the Nashville Metro Council to attend the rally with him in this tweet:

That same morning, Cooper met with the leadership team of MNPD and said later he believed their plans to deal with the possibility of violence during and after the rally was sufficient.

But, just a few hours after he spoke at Saturday’s rally, Cooper declared a state of emergency and asked Gov. Bill Lee to send in the National Guard.

On Sunday, after the full extent of the extensive damage caused by the rioters was known, Cooper admitted that his earlier assessment had been way off the mark.

“It was a shock and a heartbreak to realize that was not enough,” Cooper said of his own preparations and plans he reviewed with MNPD in advance of the rally he promoted Saturday.

Remarkably, WSMV reported on Sunday that, “Cooper said the people you saw setting fires and looting stores were not the same people out peacefully protesting earlier in the day.”

Late Sunday, 25-year-old Wesley Somers of Madison, Tennessee, which is within Davidson County, was arrested on charges of arson for setting fire to the Metro Courthouse in downtown Nashville the night before, as MNPD reported in this tweet:

“Somers was previously arrested in 2016 and charged with shooting heroin in a car in the parking lot of Walmart on Dickerson Pike with two young children in the car,” WKRN reported.

On Monday, Cooper announced a 10 p.m. curfew for Nashville.

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