Authorities have identified the masked “Umbrella Man” who was inciting the riots during the George Floyd protests.
Minneapolis police say the 32-year-old suspect is affiliated with the Aryan Cowboy Brotherhood, a white supremacist street and prison gang in Kentucky and Minnesota. The media is not publicly naming the man because he has not been charged or arrested.
“This was the first fire that set off a string of fires and looting throughout the precinct and the rest of the city,” said Erika Christensen, a Minneapolis Police Department arson investigator. “Until the actions of ... ‘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,” she added. Police were able to identify the suspect after receiving an email tip last week. The informant described the man as someone who “wanted to sow discord and racial unrest by breaking out the windows and writing what he did on the double red doors.”
Back in May, the “Umbrella Man” was caught on video smashing in store windows with a sledgehammer and encouraging people to steal from the stores. His actions led to multiple arson fires, which police say turned peaceful protests into danger zones. The suspect is also accused of spray painting the words “free shit for everyone zone” on a local AutoZone.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey warned residents about the possibility of white supremacists using the protests as an opportunity to incite violence and increase racial tensions.
“In the last few days, both our city and state law enforcement capacities have been overwhelmed by simple math — an overwhelming ratio of rioters that even our unified effort has been unable to push back,” Frey tweeted in May. “We are now confronting white supremacists, members of organized crime, out of state instigators and possibly even foreign actors [seeking] to destroy and destabilize our city and our region.”