An Illinois man was arrested by the FBI and is facing federal charges in connection with several Facebook videos showing him lighting fires, handing out explosives, and looting in Minneapolis.
“We came to riot,” wrote Matthew Lee Rupert on his Facebook page (now deleted).
Rupert is charged with civil disorder, possession of unregistered explosives and participating in and organizing riots. He’s the first individual charged in federal court for crossing state lines to incite a riot.
There’s no indication of Mr. Rupert’s politics. He was arrested in Chicago after posting his intent to start riots there.
Last Thursday night, Rupert, of Galesburg, Ill., posted on his public Facebook page an invitation for “goons” to join him in traveling to Minneapolis, where he said he was renting hotel rooms and planned to wreak havoc and “take hella good videos.”
The livestreamed videos, cited as evidence by FBI investigators in the complaint, show his role in the riots on Friday night and early Monday, including distributing explosives and then announcing, “He’s throwing my bombs … they’re going to bomb the police with them.”
“Good shot, my boy,” he shouted after one of the explosions, according to the complaint. “We came here to riot,” he declared later.
Yeah, Rupert is a dufus. And he’s a dangerous idiot.
Later in the night, Rupert asked for lighter fluid and entered a Sprint store, according to the complaint. “I lit it on fire,” he said, before entering an Office Depot and stealing items from it.
In the comments section of one video, viewed more than 4,000 times, several people criticize Rupert for his actions.
“If writing a bad check gets you killed, how do you think this guy will end up,” writes one, a reference to the reason Minneapolis police originally detained Floyd after a clerk reported that he tried to pass a counterfeit bill.
“Nothing like snitching on yourself like a Facebook live video,” writes another.
A desperate cry for help or attention? Or part of an organized effort to burn the country down? It would be comforting if it was the former, but someone, somewhere hit the Minneapolis law enforcement computers with a serious denial-of-service attack.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said Sunday that state authorities were hit with a cyber attack as law enforcement prepared to diffuse protests in Minneapolis and St. Paul, the epicenter of the unrest.
“Before our operation kicked off last night, a very sophisticated denial of service attack on all computers was executed,” Walz said. “That’s not somebody sitting in their basement. That’s pretty sophisticated.”
Walz did not offer details.
I feel confident guaranteeing that Michael Lee Rupert wasn’t behind the cyber attack. Nor anyone with his limited intelligence.
There is a purpose behind this effort to disrupt. Antifa is supposed to be a loosely organized group with no national structure or leaders. “White Supremacists” are a bunch of yahoos and skinheads — hardly genius material.
So who is it? Some entity — state-sponsored, or organized crime — that sees value and benefit in seeing the United States burn? Anything is possible.