- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 17, 2020

A Minnesota man is the latest to face federal charges for torching the Minneapolis Third Police Precinct after he discussed his alleged role in the fire in a social media interview, according to an indictment unsealed Wednesday.

Bryce Michael Williams, 26, of Staples, Minnesota, is charged with conspiracy to commit arson.

The complaint filed by U.S. Attorney for Minnesota Erica H. MacDonald alleges Mr. Williams was identified at the scene from surveillance footage. He appears on video holding a molotov cocktail while other individuals attempt to light the wick, according to court records.

Prosecutors say another video clearly shows Williams‘ face in close proximity to the Third Precinct building, which was set ablaze and looted during the civil unrest following the death of George Floyd.

Mr. Williams, a self-described semi-professional basketball player and “TikTok influencer,” also talked about participating in the Minneapolis riots in an Instagram interview, prosecutors said.

“I participated in the riots at night of course, cause I’m with my people,” Mr. Williams told the interview, according to court records.

“[They’re] all doing s—t and getting teargassed, of course I’m going to riot too,” he continued describing the scene at the Third Precinct, prosecutors allege.

The interview was posted by an Instagram account known as the “n830show,” according to the criminal complaint.

At one point, the interview asked Mr. Williams if burning down buildings is part of the rioting.

“Yeah, definitely that’s part rioting, it’s mass destruction — that’s what a riot is, it’s mass destruction,” he responds, according to the complaint.

At the end of the interview, a commenter asks Mr. Williams what it was like watching the precinct burn.

“It was just a surreal moment,” he replied. “For once we feel like we’re in complete control. The police can’t do anything. We’re burning down their sanctuary, their home.”

Later the interviewer asks, “At what point does violence become justified in the face of injustice?”

“To the point where you’re finally heard. I honestly believe in [doing] whatever it takes,” Mr. Williams responded, according to court documents.

Mr. Williams‘ indictment comes one day after another Minnesota man, Dylan Shakespeare Robinson, 22, was charged with aiding and abetting arson. He faces five to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Another Minnesota man, 23-year-old Branden Michael Wolfe of St. Paul, was charged June 8 with aiding and abetting arson for setting the precinct fire.

Both Mr. Wolfe and Mr. Robinson are white, while Mr. Williams is black.

The police station’s destruction on May 28 was seen as retaliation for the death of Mr. Floyd, a black man who died while in the custody of four white Minneapolis police officers. One of the officers placed his knee against Mr. Floyd’s neck.

The four officers have been fired and face charges related to Mr. Floyd’s death, which has been ruled a homicide.

• Valerie Richardson contributed to this article

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