Minnesota man enters plea in police station fire amid unrest

Published 6:50 am Saturday, November 21, 2020

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MINNEAPOLIS — A Minnesota man pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of conspiracy to commit arson for helping set fire to a Minneapolis police station during civil unrest in the days following the death of George Floyd.

According to an indictment, Bryce Michael Williams, 26, of Staples, went to the Third Precinct building on May 28 where a crowd of hundreds gathered. At one point, the crowd began shouting, “Burn it down, burn it down” and a fence that surrounded the building was torn down.

Williams and others breached the fence, and surveillance video footage showed him holding a Molotov cocktail while others lit the wick. Another man carried the device inside and used it to light the fire.

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The burning of the precinct and dozens of other buildings led the governor to call in the National Guard to quell the unrest that followed Floyd’s death.

Floyd, a Black man in handcuffs, died May 25 after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, knelt on his neck. Floyd repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe.

Chauvin has been charged with murder and manslaughter. Three other officers were charged with aiding and abetting. All four of the officers worked out of the Third Precinct before they were fired.

Several others have also been charged in the precinct fire. Williams is the only one to plead guilty so far.