The masked white man who was filmed smashing the windows of the Minneapolis Automated Zone during the initial George Floyd protest was a white supremacist suspected of trying to provoke racial tensions, according to police reports.
A detective investigating the Minneapolis Police arson says the 32-year-old’s actions, captured on video, contributed to a chain reaction that led to the store’s fire and days looting and rioting, according to an affidavit of search warrants that Minneapolis obtained the Tribune Star.
Investigator Erika Christensen wrote in affidavit this week: “This is the first fire to trigger a string of fires and looting throughout the area and the rest of the city.
Before “The Man with the Umbrella” began smashing shop windows, “the protests were relatively peaceful,” Christensen said.
“The actions of this person created an atmosphere of hostility and tension,” she said. “This individual’s sole purpose is to incite violence.”
According to the police report, the suspect was a member of the Hell’s Angels cycling gang and an associate of the Aryan Cowboy Brotherhood, a white supremacist group based primarily in Minnesota and Kentucky.
He was identified by a tip received via email last week and is also suspected of having struck up a conversation with a Muslim woman in Stillwater late last month while wearing a white supremacist outfit, the Star. Tribune reported.
He was not charged so the Star Tribune did not reveal his name.
“This remains an open investigation that we will not be able to comment on. There are no charges filed at this time. We cannot comment on this case,” Minneapolis Police spokesman John A. Elder said in a statement to the Daily News on Tuesday.
Before the video was filmed smashing the window, the suspect is said to have been seen carrying a black umbrella and spray-painting the phrase “free (explore) for everyone in the area” on the AutoZone’s double doors.
When the video of “Man with Umbrella” first went viral following Floyd’s death at the hands of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, some on social media speculated he was a St. Paul.
Police of St. Paul responded by releasing timestamped surveillance videos showing the officer in question being in St. Paul at the time of the incident.