The man, who was caught watching videos breaking windows in the Minneapolis AutoZone after the death of George Floyd, is a member of the angels of hell, which is trying to provoke social unrest, police said.
According to the nickname “Umbrella Man”, for his completely black appearance, which included a hood, a gas mask and a black umbrella, police said the man’s actions led to arson – the first of several to send peaceful protests into chaos.
Police identified the 32-year-old suspect through rush hour last week. Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder told the Associated Press on Tuesday that he could not confirm the person’s name, but that the investigation remained open and active.
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“It was the first fire to start a fire and looting in the whole area and in the rest of the city,” said Erika Christensen, a Minneapolis police arson investigator.
The riots spread to other parts of Minneapolis and St. Paul and caused an estimated $ 500 million in damage. At least two people died – one man who was fatally shot in a pawn shop in Minneapolis and the other whose burnt body was found in the rubble of another bank.
Floyd, a black man, died on May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer named Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, despite Floyd’s cries that he could not breathe. At that time, Floyd was handcuffed.
Protests and riots spread throughout the country in the days, weeks and even months following reports of his death.
A video taken two days after Floyd’s death on May 27 showed that “Umbrella Man” smashes windows in an AutoZone store with a hammer. Some protesters asked him to stop.
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Before that, the man sprayed a captivating phrase on the front door, police said. The AutoZone fire was the first to which firefighters responded during civil unrest, said Minaneapolis fire chief Bryan Tyner on Tuesday.
In an affidavit, Christensen wrote that she had seen “countless hours” of video on social media platforms and tried to identify the suspect without luck. The Minneapolis police then emailed a tip that identified him as a member of the Hell’s Angels gang, which “wanted to sow disapproval and racial unrest by breaking windows and writing what it had done on the double red doors,” according to the affidavit. .
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The investigation revealed that the man was also a companion to the Aryan cowboy fraternity, a white supremacist prison and a street gang based mainly in Minnesota and Kentucky. Several of its members were in Stillwater, eastern Minnesota, late last month when a Muslim woman faced a group of men wearing white supremacist clothing.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.