In May, as protests over the death of George Floyd initially got underway in Minneapolis, a video went viral showing a man dressed in all black and carrying an umbrella, smashing windows at a AutoZone with a sledgehammer. After months of investigation, Minneapolis police now believe the man may be a white supremacist.
The Star Tribune reports that an anonymous tip sent via email has identified the man as a member of the Hell’s Angels biker gang who was there to exacerbate racial tensions and incite violence. An arson investigator for the Minneapolis police believed the man’s actions set off a chain reaction and were responsible for the looting and property damage seen during the early days of the protests. The man spray painted “Free Shit For Everyone,” on the glass doors of the AutoZone before smashing it’s windows; the store was later burned down.
From the Star Tribune:
“This was the first fire that set off a string of fires and looting throughout the precinct and the rest of the city,” Erika Christensen wrote in a search warrant affidavit filed in court this week. “Until the actions of the person your affiant has been calling ‘Umbrella man,’ the protests had been relatively peaceful. The actions of this person created an atmosphere of hostility and tension. Your affiant believes that this individual’s sole aim was to incite violence.”
Police identified the suspect thanks to a tip that came via email last week, Christensen said.
At least two people died in the subsequent riots, which eventually spread as far as north Minneapolis and South St. Paul, and caused an estimated $500 million in damage.
Police have also connected the 32-year-old man to a widely publicized incident in Stillwater late last month, in which a Muslim woman was confronted by a group of men wearing white supremacist garb.
Christensen says in the affidavit that she had spent countless hours watching videos across TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat, and various other social media platforms to try and identify the man, to no success. Further investigation revealed that the man was also connected to an incident in June where a Muslim woman was harassed by members of the Aryan Cowboy Brotherhood, a white supremacist gang based in Minnesota and Kentucky.
As protests against systemic racism and police brutality have continued through the summer, reports of white supremacists trying to sabotage them have grown in frequency. This past weekend in Richmond, Ala., police allege that a group of white supremacists masqueraded as Black Lives Matter protesters and began destroying property to derail what had been a peaceful protest. Last month, an alleged ‘Boogaloo Boy,” was charged with murder in the death of a federal officer during a Black Lives Matter protest in Oakland, Calif.
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