Nashville Woman Arrested, Faces Federal Arson Charges in Connection with Courthouse Fire

August 4, 2020 Updated: August 5, 2020

A Nashville woman was arrested on Tuesday charged with arson for allegedly destroying the Nashville City Hall, also known as the Metro Courthouse, on May 30, amid protests and riots in the wake of the death of George Floyd.

According to a criminal complaint unsealed on Tuesday, Shelby Ligons, 22, of Nashville, Tennessee, has been charged with malicious destruction of property using fire or explosives on the courthouse. If convicted, she faces a mandatory minimum of 5 years and up to 20 years in prison.

Ligons was scheduled for an initial appearance before a U.S. magistrate judge on Tuesday afternoon. She is the second person to face federal arson charges in connection with the Metro Courthouse. The first person was charged on June 3—Wesley Somers, 25, of Hendersonville, Tennessee. He has a pending case in the U.S. District Court.

The criminal complaint alleges that Ligons was among the protesters in downtown Nashville on May 30. In a video posted online, a woman that appears to be Ligons sets fire to a poster and then places it inside a window of the Metro Courthouse.

The woman was wearing blue jeans, a black-colored shirt, a medical mask, and a white-colored bandana on her head, and the poster board she was holding carried the words “[Expletive] The Police” and “We Will Not Be Silent,” according to the video.

Other protesters were shown in a number of videos and photos posted online trying to destroy the courthouse by smashing windows and spraying graffiti on the building.

According to the Department of Justice, the case is being investigated by the FBI, the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, and the Nashville Fire Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ben Schrader and Trial Attorney Justin Sher of the Justice Department’s Counterterrorism Section are prosecuting the case.

Protests and riots unfolded across the country following the death of George Floyd in police custody on May 25.

Floyd was seen on video footage saying he could not breathe as Derek Chauvin, a police officer, restrained him with a knee to the neck and head area for nearly 9 minutes.

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