3 indicted on arson charges in Wendy’s fire during Rayshard Brooks protest

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said metro Atlanta authorities support the right to peaceful protests, but that law enforcement could not tolerate violent acts like arson.

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Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said metro Atlanta authorities support the right to peaceful protests, but that law enforcement could not tolerate violent acts like arson.

Three people arrested after a southwest Atlanta Wendy’s was burned down during the protests following Rashard Brooks’ shooting death have been indicted on multiple charges, Fulton County court records show.

John Wesley Wade, Natalie Hanna White and Chisom Kingston were each indicted on two counts of first-degree arson and one count of conspiracy to commit arson, according to online court records. The indictments were handed down Thursday by a Fulton grand jury, nearly 20 months after protestors allegedly burned down the fast-food restaurant where Brooks was killed by an Atlanta police officer in June 2020.

White was the first of the three defendants to be arrested on June 23, 2020, followed by Wade and Kingston a little more than a week later, Fulton jail records show. All three were able to post bond and were released within a few hours or days.

ExploreAtlanta protest organizer among 2 more arrested in arson at Wendy’s

Wade, an activist who led several protests during the summer of 2020, was arrested again that August and charged with criminal attempt to incite a riot, according to jail records. He helped organize the protest that preceded the Wendy’s going up in flames, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported.

In an interview with Channel 2 Action News, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said metro Atlanta authorities support the constitutional right of citizens to peacefully protest, but that law enforcement would not tolerate violence.

“It is unacceptable to burn down a building in your community, even in the name of a protest,” Willis said.

According to Willis, much of the evidence that led to the indictment of Wade, White and Kingston was gathered from video shared on social media the night of the protest. She said investigators spent thousands of hours combing through videos of the scene surrounding the fire.

“Each of these three people took an active role in destroying this Wendy’s,” Willis said.

Drew Findling, White’s defense attorney, told Channel 2 his client was not guilty and had no association with her two co-defendants. Findling welcomed the video evidence in the case, which he said would help prove her innocence.

— Please return to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for updates.