Police in Minneapolis say that a man known as the “Umbrella Man”, belonging to white supremacy groups, damaged property in the city during Black Lives Matter protests.
After the death of George Floyd’s unarmed black man in May, people took to the streets of the city.
Police say the Umbrella Man helped violently spark large-scale peaceful protests.
Footage of the man wearing a mask and smashing an umbrella while breaking shop windows went viral online.
In the video, taken on May 27, Umbrella Man can be seen smashing windows with a hammer as people approach him trying to stop him. He then leaves the scene.
Police said he also sprayed a message on the store’s doors.
This raises the question of who the man was and what his motive was.
Violence erupted in the city during the protests and the National Guard was called and buildings were set on fire after looting was reported.
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Police claim that the man’s actions were a catalyst for the violence. The Autozone store seen in the video was later set on fire.
A search warrant affidavit filed Monday by Minneapolis police investigator Erica Christenson said, “It was the first fire that caused fire and looting in the entire area and the rest of the city.”
The purpose of the affidavit is to gain access to the man’s mobile phone records for the day where he was at the time of the incident.
Who is Umbrella Man?
He has not been named by the local media as he has not been formally charged with the crime.
Minnesota police tried to identify the man through video footage of the mass violence, but had no luck.
According to the Star Tribune, the man was identified after an email tip-off. The email claimed that the man was a member of the Hells Angels biker gang.
An investigation found that the man was also associated with the Aryan cowboy, prison biker / street gang. The Anti-Defamation League identifies them as a white supremacist group based primarily in Kentucky and Minnesota.
A Minneapolis police search warrant claimed the man has previous convictions for domestic violence and assault.
It was these previous arrests that authorities claimed helped him identify the man. He compared photographs taken of the incident in Minneapolis to previous booking photographs.
The warrant claims that the man’s size and eye, nose and brow areas match the umbrella man’s.
It is also alleged that the man was involved in an incident last month in which a Muslim woman clashed with a motorcycle group wearing the leather vest of the Aryan cowboy.
After footage of the Minnesota protest was released online, there were many theories as to who the Umbrella Man could be.
The St. Paul Police Department was forced to issue a statement and a video denied that he was one of their officers.
Police Chief Todd Axel said: “We knew immediately that our officer was not involved in instigating the unrest in Minneapolis because we knew where he was at the time – and he was in St. Paul.
“This type of dissolution may endanger the officer’s reputation and safety, and should work to the trust of this police department,” he said.