Nashville Mayor John Cooper declared a state of civil emergency after protesters set a fire inside Metro Courthouse.
Thousands had rallied near the state Capitol starting in the afternoon to protest police brutality and racism. The demonstration turned violent after darkness fell, with protesters breaking windows in government buildings and causing other property damage.
Police deployed tear gas and began warning demonstrators that the protest was unlawful. Around 9 p.m., Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee authorized the National Guard to mobilize “in response to protests that have now taken a violent, unlawful turn in Nashville.”
Demonstrators earlier in the evening pulled down a statue outside the state Capitol of Edward Carmack, The Tennessean reported.
Carmack was a politician in the early 1900s who wrote editorials lambasting the writings of prominent Tennessee civil rights journalist Ida B. Wells.
He was fatally shot in 1908 by a political rival.
The protest occurred as demonstrators across the country protested the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air as a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on his neck.