Man Charged With Bombs, Inciting Riot, Praised Trump On Social Media
Matthew Lee Rupert was arrested in Chicago Monday and will face federal charges for his actions over the weekend. Rupert announced his intentions on social media, and filmed the events. He offered explosive devices to others, encouraging people to throw these at law enforcement. On his own video, he can be seen declaring an intention to steal from stores, then leaving the stores with merchandise. In advance of the weekend, he expressed a desire to riot. Also on his social media can be found his praise of President Donald Trump.
Where there are protests and riots, there is debate about exactly how connected the two are. Despite evidence over the weekend, Donald Trump and his representatives have maintained that right-wing white supremacists are not infiltrating protests and starting riots for the purposes of discrediting the movement. Instead, they say that antifa is responsible for escalating demonstrations.
In Rupert’s case, RawStory reports that he had expressed a mixture of feelings on his social media: sympathy for George Floyd, distaste for law enforcement — and admiration for Donald Trump. In posts, he called himself a “freedom fighter” standing for constitutional rights.
The Justice Department complaint against Rupert describes his self-incriminating posts. A resident of Illinois, he declared his intention to travel to Minneapolis to join demonstrations. In video, he shows apparent explosive devices and says, “They got SWAT trucks up there…I’ve got some bombs if some of you all want to throw them back…bomb them back…here I got some more…light it and throw it.” Further video shows Rupert asking for lighter fluid before entering a Sprint store, and returning to announce that he’s lit a fire in the building, and announcing a desire to steal from an Office Depot store before entering that building and returning with merchandise.
The federal charges alleging Matthew Rupert incited riots and looting in Minneapolis and Chicago specifically mention his “distinctive gold teeth” that can be seen on videos he allegedly posted to Facebook. This mugshot is from Galesburg PD from 2018: https://t.co/0iWUyEtDJC pic.twitter.com/v5L7eiFVF9
— Jason Meisner (@jmetr22b) June 2, 2020
Moving on to demonstrations in Chicago, Rupert’s social media posts announce that he intends to “loot until 2:30,” and in video he shared of those events, he declares an intention to “start a riot” and “[do] some damage.” According to the Chicago Sun Times, his videos also appear to show him attempting to rob a cash register in a retail store (though it turned out to be empty), stealing boxes of tobacco products from a convenience store, and breaking into a liquor store.
Rupert has not been linked to any specific extremist group or any single ideology. However, his social media and travel support assertions that at least some destruction, rioting, looting, and violent behavior is coming from outside agitators who do not live in the areas where protests are being held and are not acting to support the cause. According to the criminal complaint (pdf), a group of associates traveled with Rupert to the protest locations. There is, as yet, no word on whether any others in his group will face charges.