Illinois Man Charged After Allegedly Distributing Explosives at Minneapolis Protest

June 2, 2020 Updated: June 2, 2020

Federal authorities have arrested and charged an Illinois man who allegedly traveled to Minneapolis to take part in protests in response to the death of George Floyd. He has been accused of distributing explosives while encouraging others to throw them at law enforcement officers.

Matthew Lee Rupert, 28, was arrested in Chicago on June 1 and charged with civil disorder, carrying on a riot, and possession of unregistered destructive devices, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

According to court papers released Monday, the 28-year-old allegedly recorded himself damaging property, passing out explosive devices to people participating in Minneapolis protests, and uploaded the footage on his personal Facebook page. He can be heard telling a rioter to aim the explosives at police SWAT officers.

“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,” Rupert said, according to the complaint.

He is depicted handing someone an item with a brown casing and a green wick.

“We come to riot, boy! This is what we came for!” Rupert can be heard saying in the video. “He’s throwing my bombs. He’s going to bomb the police with them.”

“Good shot my boy,” Rupert is heard saying after an explosion in the background, according to court documents.

In the self-recorded video, Rupert can also be seen “actively damaging property,” appearing to light a building on fire, and looting businesses in Minneapolis, the DOJ said.

The video posted by Rupert also shows him asking for lighter fluid in a boarded-up liquor store and entering a Spring cell phone store before he says he “lit it on fire.”

A video also shows Rupert entering and looting an Office Depot, according to the complaint.

Chicago police officers arrested the 28-year-old on Sunday morning after he allegedly violated an emergency curfew order in the city.

“Several destructive devices,” a hammer, a heavy-duty flashlight, and cash were then discovered by authorities after they searched his vehicle, the complaint states.

A woman, who identified herself as Rupert’s girlfriend, told police in an interview that the 28-year-old told her he traveled to Minnesota with several people to “riot,” reported NBC Chicago.

Rupert appeared in a Chicago court on Monday for a hearing to have him transported by U.S. marshals to Minnesota where he is charged.

Lawmakers have publicly condemned the widespread rioting, violence, and looting that has marred the otherwise peaceful protests over the in-custody death of 46-year-old George Floyd in Minneapolis last week. 

According to a tally compiled by The Associated Press, at least 4,400 people have been arrested across the United States after days of protests.

Derek Chauvin, a Minneapolis police officer, was charged Friday with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death. Chauvin and three other officers involved in Floyd’s arrest were fired.

A widely circulated video showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck while Floyd told officers, “I can’t breathe,” before he eventually became unresponsive. According to a Minneapolis Fire Department report (pdf), Floyd was unresponsive and “pulseless” when being transported in an ambulance by paramedics to the hospital.

According to Floyd’s family, the results of a second independent autopsy they commissioned said that “sustained pressure on the right side of Floyd’s carotid artery impeded blood flow to the brain, and weight on his back impeded his ability to breathe.”