An Illinois man who took video of himself handing out ‘bombs’ to rioters in the wake of Minneapolis resident George Floyd’s death and urging recipients to throw them at police officers and buildings has been arrested by federal authorities.
Federal officials nabbed Matthew Lee Rupert, 28, of Galesburg, Ill., in Chicago on Monday, charging him with civil disorder, carrying on a riot, and being in possession of unregistered destructive devices, according to a press release from the Justice Department.
The criminal complaint said that Rupert posted a video to his Facebook page last week where he said he was traveling to Minneapolis to take part in demonstrations that called for holding police accountable for the death of Floyd May 25.
Floyd was arrested on a forgery charge for allegedly attempting to pass a phony $20 bill. It isn’t clear that Floyd actually did so or that he was aware the bill was fake. After he was taken into custody, he was pinned to the pavement face down by police officer Derek Chauvin’s knee, which was placed across Floyd’s neck.
Floyd became unresponsive after several minutes and then died.
Protests erupted almost immediately in Minneapolis after video of the incident surfaced and went viral online, leading to demonstrations and then protests that turned violent.
Federal prosecutors said that Rupert live-streamed to his Facebook page a number of videos that lasted for hours over the weekend in which he was seen giving explosives to various people so they could lob them at police officers. At one point, a building was lit on fire, and Rupert was also seen looting a business, UPI reported.
In one video Rupert uploaded, he is seen allegedly passing out an explosive device to an unidentified male who then lights it and follows Rupert’s instructions to lob it.
“He’s throwing my bombs,” Rupert can be heard saying in the video. “They’re going to bomb police with them.”
During a period of time between Friday night and early Saturday morning, the suspect is seen in another video asking someone for lighter fluid before he enters a Sprint cellphone store, later heard saying, “I lit it on fire,” the federal complaint says.
Rupert traveled to Chicago on Sunday, posting several videos to his social media account. On one he is heard saying, “Let’s start a riot.”
Chicago Police officers busted Rupert at 2:21 a.m. as well as others he was with for violating the city’s emergency curfew order put in place to curb rioting. During a subsequent search of his vehicle, officers discovered a number of the “destructive devices” he was allegedly handing out, along with a hammer, a flashlight, and an undisclosed amount of cash.
In the complaint, prosecutors described the devices as being made from commercial items, adding they consisted of a cylinder container, a hobby fuse, and a main charge “capable of exploding.”
Rupert’s girlfriend, who is not named in the criminal complaint, was also arrested for violating the curfew. She told police that Rupert was the person in the videos that were streamed to Facebook, according to prosecutors.
Several police vehicles have been attacked and burned over the past several days, targeted by rioters and looters who claim to be acting out in the name of Floyd.
BizPac Review reported Monday that two Brooklyn lawyers are facing federal charges for firebombing a police vehicle during a protest in New York City over the weekend.
Jon is a staff writer for BizPac Review with 30 years' worth of reporting experience, as well as an author and U.S. Army veteran. He has a BA in political science from Ashford University and an MA in national security studies/intelligence analysis from American Military University.
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