You have likely heard this from both President Trump and your local news anchor. Out-of-state provocateurs infiltrated the peaceful protests to instigate violence and looting. But is it true? Well, they caught at least one man who has been arrested for looting in Chicago, but who also made an appearance at the Minneapolis riots. The man appears to be encouraging others to attack police and destroy private property.
Matthew Lee Rupert has been charged with civil disorder, carrying on a riot, and possession of unregistered destructive devices. These are all federal crimes.
U.S. officials are attempting to determine if extremist groups had anything to do with the escalating violence. Meanwhile, President Trump has declared Antifa a terrorist group, something that experts are unsure that he has the authority to do, amid reports that far-right groups also may have contributed to the chaos of the past few days.
Rupert is Not Connected to Any Organization
As of yet, officials have not said whether or not Rupert is connected to any organization. However, one Chicago police officer told reporters that a number of individuals he spoke to seemed to have southern accents, meaning that they were out of towners. This officer was involved in one arrest of a man from Tennessee.
Fake Account Bloom
One of the surest signs that a disinformation campaign is underway is the fabrication of several social media accounts at the same time with fewer than 200 followers. This indicates that propagandists are flooding social media channels, debate forums, and other groups with information to inflame the situation one way or the other (and sometimes both ways).
Police say that the investigations are meant to pull back the curtain on the group that is believed to be responsible for some of the worst civil unrest this country has seen since the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr.
What Did Rupert Do?
Authorities are accusing Rupert of making announcements on his Facebook account that he was going to Minneapolis and invited “goons only” to come along with him, offering to rent hotel rooms. They also accuse Rupert of handing out explosive devices and setting a building on fire.
Police know that Rupert was in Minneapolis because he posted a live feed from Minneapolis to his Facebook page. At one point, Rupert is heard on video telling others to throw “bombs” at SWAT members. Rupert broke into a boarded-up liquor store, set a Sprint store on fire, and then took video of himself stealing from a Home Depot.
Police arrested Rupert for violating the emergency curfew order. Upon searching his car, they found explosive or destructive devices similar to those used in Minneapolis.
Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with a crime during the riots, you will need an attorney who has handled criminal defense cases in the Chicago area before and understands the stakes involved. Call David Freidberg today at (312) 560-7100 to learn more about how we can help.