NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - News 4 profiled a self-proclaimed ANTIFA activist, who was at the riots on the day that people vandalized and burned the Nashville Historic Courthouse.

Corey Lemley celebrated on May 30. He posted on his FaceBook page, "the city is ours," over an aerial shot of the courthouse on fire with its windows broken out. 

"The city was ours that night," Lemley said.

Lemley refers to himself as an ANTIFA activist and an anarchist. ANTIFA is short for anti-fascist.

Lemley said a group of about ten Lemley activists went downtown with the goal of protecting Black Lives Matters protesters from a possible disruption by white supremacists.

The night turned violent, as vandals smashed windows, toppled a civil rights statue, spray painted graffiti, and damaged a Metro Police patrol car.

Amid the chaos, Lemley posted: "riots and uprisings keep the system in check."

"So you think rioting is a good thing?" Amons asked Lemley.

"It's a useful tool, yes," Lemley said.

"Do you condone the violence that happened that night?" Amons asked.

"I condone everything that happened that night," Lemley said.

Lemley is a 29-year-old native of East Nashville and a video producer. He travels with antifa activists to rallies in other cities. He said its to fight white supremecists.

Lemley has made the news before as protests turned violent.

Lemley posted video of himself in Charlottesville Virginia in 2017 smashing a photographer's video camera and bragging about it.

He told Amons he wanted to stop the photographer from taking video of someone who was injured.

"If the same thing happened again, would you do the same thing again?" Amons asked.

"Yeah, without a doubt," Lemley said.

During Nashville's day and night of violence, Lemley posted videos of himself at the Central police precinct as it was under siege. In a FaceBook Live - posting the 'police precinct is ours."

He also posted a picture of himself burning a "blue lives matter flag," writing, "I was afraid that Nashville would not live up to this historic moment. I was proven wrong."

Amons asked Lemley about burning the flag.

"I hope this makes people uncomfortable," he said.

Lemley denies taking part in setting fire to the courthouse and News 4 asked if the arson was justified in any way. 

"That's a broad question. I mean," Lemley said.

"I'm asking your for a very specific answer, " Amons said, "do you think the arson at the courthouse was justified?"

"I think the outrage is justified," Lemley said.

Amons repeated, "do you think the arson is justified?"

"It can be rebuilt. It can be replaced. Black lives can't be replaced," said Lemley.

"I'm not going to worry about property damage at a time when racism is at an all-time high, " he said.

Lemley said he doesn't know any of the people who have been arrested in connection with the arson at the courthouse. He denies that he incited violence, saying instead he was with a community frustrated with the system. is now with you on the go! Get the latest news updates and video, 4WARN weather forecast, weather radar, special investigative reports, sports headlines and much more from News4 Nashville.

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Nancy Amons is an award-winning member of the News4 Investigates team. She has been breaking stories in Middle Tennessee for more than 20 years.

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