- An arsonist who lit a Minneapolis cell phone store on fire and hurled explosives at police during a violent riot in May 2020 was sentenced to nearly nine years in prison Tuesday, the Department of Justice announced.
- A federal court in Minnesota convicted Matthew Lee Rupert of arson, intent to incite, organize and carry out a riot and civil disorder charges.
- Court documents reflect that Rupert’s Facebook posts encourage “only goons” come to Minneapolis “riots” where Facebook Live videos reveal him passing out explosives to throw explosives at law enforcement officers, lighting a building on fire and looting businesses.
An arsonist who lit a Minneapolis cell phone store on fire and hurled explosives at police during a violent riot in May 2020 was sentenced to nearly nine years in prison Tuesday, the Department of Justice announced.
A federal court in Minnesota convicted Matthew Lee Rupert of arson, intent to incite, organize and carry out a riot and civil disorder charges.
Video footage shows Rupert asked for lighter fluid before entering a Sprint store’s back room where he told those nearby that he located the store’s safe, according to court documents. With the help of others, Rupert pushed boxes into a pile on the ground, which he covered in lighter fluid before directing someone else to set it on fire.
He then escaped from the building saying “I lit it on fire!”
Rupert drove “more than 400 miles from his home in Illinois to Minnesota to engage in violence and destruction, all while broadcasting it for the world to see,” Acting U.S. Attorney W. Anders Folk said in the Department of Justice press release. “Peaceful protest was not on his agenda.”
“I’m going to Minneapolis tomorrow who coming only goons I’m renting hotel rooms,” Rupert posted on his Facebook on May 28, 2020, according to court documents. He signaled his arrival in the city the next day and said he planned “to riot.”
In a Facebook video reviewed by investigators, he is shown passing out what a bomb tech confirmed were explosive devices that he encourages them to throw at law enforcement officers. He is also videoed actively damaging property and looting businesses in Minneapolis.
In the video, Rupert encourages rioters to attack nearby SWAT trucks with the explosives and said “Light that bitch and throw it at them” and yelled “Fuck 12,” an anti-police phrase used to describe law enforcement officers, according to court documents.
The glorification of arson, looting and property damage won’t be tolerated, Folk said. “Today, justice has caught up with Mr. Rupert as he must now account for his crimes.”
Other officials, such as Michael Paul, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s field office in Minneapolis, condemned the “violent offenders” who participated in the “deliberate damage” during civil unrest that plagued the city and many other American cities across the country during the summer of 2020. He said the FBI in Minneapolis and the St. Paul Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) will continue to hold criminals like Rupert accountable for their “dangerous and divisive criminal conduct.”
Paul said Rupert came to the city for the “express purpose of instigating lawless behavior on our local streets. He demonstrated no purpose other than endangering peaceful protests by actively encouraging violence against law enforcement and personally destroying community businesses.”
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