“We came to riot,” a man from an Illinois town stated in a video he livestreamed on Facebook when he was in Minneapolis. And federal authorities say that’s what he did.
He was accused Monday — one week after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody — of passing out explosive devices and encouraging people to throw them at law enforcement officers, appearing to light a building on fire and looting a business.
Matthew Lee Rupert, 28, posted messages on Facebook on Thursday about the protests in the Twin Cities over Floyd’s death and wrote, “I’m going to Minneapolis tomorrow who coming only goons I’m renting hotel rooms,” according to the criminal complaint. He is from Galesburg, Ill., which is about 45 miles from Peoria.
Gov. Tim Walz talked on Saturday about people coming from outside Minnesota, fueling destruction and rioting in the Twin Cities, but has said in following up that “there’s a lot more investigating to be done.” Some people who have been arrested are from out of state, but most gave authorities Minnesota addresses.
Who are the outside agitators coming in?
“There’s a lot of rumors and there’s a lot of stuff up on social media, and that we are feeding that to our intelligence units to try to see if we can validate or vet any of those,” Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said Sunday. “At this point I don’t have any credible evidence of any specific group being here in Minnesota. I have lots of people calling me saying ‘Have you heard?,’ but I have not had anybody that can actually bring me evidence … that actually validates that.”
On Friday, Rupert posted a live video to Facebook, indicating he was in Minneapolis. He said, “They got SWAT trucks up there … I’ve got some bombs if some of you all want to throw them back … bomb them back,” according to the complaint. Soon after, he said, “Light that (expletive) and throw it at them.”
Rupert asked for lighter fluid before going in a Sprint store and then said, in the video, “I lit it on fire,” after which he went in a nearby Office Depot and filmed himself taking items from the store, the complaint said.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Minnesota charged Rupert with civil disorder, carrying on a riot and possession of unregistered destructive devices. An attorney for Rupert was not listed in the court record.
On Saturday, Rupert posted messages on Facebook saying he was heading to Chicago, “We will be back bro we can loot til 2:30,” the complaint said.
Early on Sunday, Rupert posted multiple videos on Facebook showing him in Chicago, wearing an American flag bandanna and baseball cap, and saying, “Let’s start a riot” and “I’m going to start doing some damage,” according to the complaint.
Chicago police arrested him about 2:20 a.m. Sunday for violating the city’s emergency curfew order. Officers found explosive devices in his vehicle, along with a hammer, a heavy-duty flashlight and cash, the complaint continued.
Rupert was taken into federal custody on Monday in Chicago.
The FBI is asking the public to report suspected arson, use of explosive devices, or violent, destructive acts associated with the otherwise peaceful protests of the last week by calling 800-CALLFBI (800-225-5324), or providing pictures or videos at fbi.gov/violence.