TikToker and semi-pro basketball player Bryce Williams is being federally charged in connection with the burning of the Minneapolis Police Department’s 3rd Precinct following the killing of George Floyd.
The 26-year-old Williams was charged Monday with conspiracy to commit arson, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota. Williams was arrested on June 16 and made his first appearance June 17 in federal court.
He is currently being held in Sherburne County jail ahead of a June 19 detention hearing.
— U.S. Attorney MN (@DMNnews) June 17, 2020
Williams is the latest of a slew of people being charged with federal rioting or arson in connection to the nationwide protests over Floyd’s death and police brutality.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The ‘Influencer’ Was in the Middle of Making a Documentary Showcasing Floyd Protests Across the Country
A Minnesota native, Williams boasts over 140,000 followers on TikTok and 4.8 million likes. He describes himself as an activist, actor and “hooper” on his Instagram bio. On June 7, Williams announced he was creating a “Black Lives Matter World Documentary.” The purpose, according to his GoFundMe page, is to show “the world what our country is going through and how bad we need change in our justice system.”
With a goal of raising $3,000, Williams wrote that he and two others would be joining protests around the country. The money would go toward travel, food, sleep and film expenses.
“Our World Document will be NOTHING like before as I am in the front of the lines protesting with my people,” he wrote. “Being Tear gassed, maced, shot at with pepper rubber bullets or threatened to be arrested won’t stop me from speaking my mind!”
2. William Was Recorded by Surveillance Cameras at the Precinct the Night of the Riot, Investigators Say
According to a criminal complaint affidavit sworn by a U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent, Williams was seen on surveillance cameras at the entrance of the precinct holding a Molotov cocktail. He was clearly “viewable” as the crowd “mostly dispersed,” wearing a mask, baseball cap and hooded sweatshirt, the complaint continues.
Video shows Williams holding the cocktail as another person attempts to light it before passing it to a third person inside of the building.
3. Williams Posted Several Videos to Social Media Confirming His Presence at the Riot
Investigators reviewed several videos Williams posted online on May 28 and May 29, including YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok. Authorities said Williams posted to his TikTok account a video of himself standing outside the burning 3rd Precinct building, the complaint outlines. A YouTube compilation video of the unrest also purportedly shows Williams holding a Molotov cocktail while another person tried to light it, the complaint continues.
4. Williams Gave an Interview on Instagram Describing His Participation
During the investigation, authorities reviewed an interview posted on the Instagram account for the Nate Thirty Show with the username “n830show.” Williams told the interviewer that he was “there when they first burned down the police station” and that he participated in the protests during the day and the riots at night.
Williams said, “I participated in the riots at night of course, cause I’m with my people. They all doing (explicit) and getting tear-gassed, of course, I’m going to riot too.”
“Yeah, definitely that’s part of rioting, it’s mass destruction — that’s what a riot is, it’s mass destruction,” Williams responded after the interviewer asked if he considering “burning down the buildings part of rioting.”
“It’s just a surreal moment,” Williams described. “For once we feel like we’re in complete control. The police can’t do anything. We’re burning down their sanctuary, their home.”
5. Williams Is the Second Central Minnesota Man to Face Charges for the Minneapolis Police Precinct Arson
The attorney’s office Tuesday announced charges against a Brainerd Lakes area man, Dylan Shakespeare Robinson. The 22-year-old was charged with aiding and abetting an arson in connection with the fires of the Minneapolis police station, according to an earlier press release.
ATF investigators reviewed a video posted on Robinson’s Snapchat account that showed at least one individual appearing to make a Molotov cocktail while multiple unidentified voices provide directions on how to make the device. During the video, he typed several comments, including “These guys have never made a Molotov… Rookies,” and, “We need gasoline.”
The ATF is offering a total of $70,000 in rewards for information leading to the arrest of suspects who set fires in Minneapolis and St. Paul during the unrest.