A vocal 19-year-old protester who rose to prominence this summer after the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., was arrested this weekend on an arson charge in a neighboring community, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
Joshua Williams, 19, was arrested Friday and charged Saturday with setting fire to a convenience store in Berkeley, Mo., during unrest last week after an officer killed Antonio Martin, 18, who allegedly pulled out a gun during a confrontation, the report says. Protests erupted after the shooting, and Williams allegedly confessed to setting fires at the store in a videotaped interview, the newspaper writes, citing court documents.
Besides the Post-Dispatch, Williams has been quoted and has appeared in photographs from Bloomberg, USA Today and the Associated Press during protests over the Ferguson shooting, the report says. His arrest came after surveillance video allegedly captured him early Wednesday trying to set fire to a pile of wood outside a QuikTrip on North Hanley Road in Berkeley, the report says. Police allege that Williams entered the QuikTrip shortly after looters crashed through its glass doors during protests over Martin’s death.
Some protesters, who gathered Saturday outside the St. Louis County Justice Center, were in disbelief over Williams’ alleged confession and said the video images are not clear enough to identify him as the perpetrator in the arson.
“Josh is one of the young activists, and all of us have taken close to him. We got to know his heart, and he got to know ours,” Bishop Derrick Robinson, of Kingdom Destiny Fellowship International, told the news outlet. “He’s a great kid, an educated kid, a child who knows what he wants, and is very active in the community.”
Read more at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.