Just who are behind the violence, arson, and rioting in the streets in Minneapolis and other major cities? It’s not entirely clear yet what the precise mix is, but at least here in the Twin Cities, what is becoming clear that it’s not just “outside agitators” who are stirring the pot, as Governor Tim Walz and the two mayors claimed early on but were later forced to retract. The Department of Justice did charge one Illinois man, Matthew Lee Rupert, with crossing state lines to riot, but the rest of the serious arrests in the last 24 hours all involve Minnesota locals.
The Star Tribune notes this morning that the actual record on arrests “conflicts” with the outside-agitators narrative pushed by Minnesota’s leadership. For instance, a traffic stop of a no-license-plate prowling car turned up three Minnesotans, not outsiders — and not “white supremacists,” either:
In warning that “outside agitators” had infiltrated local protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man killed by Minneapolis police, state officials outlined a list of concerning developments, including cars stripped of their license plates driving around town.
But at least one case charged Tuesday in Hennepin County District Court showed that a group of mostly local young men were riding in one of the mysterious vehicles.
Police allegedly recovered two guns, a hammer and an “electric grinding tool” from the men.
Authorities charged Junior G. Smith, 24, of Rochester; Augustine Z. Livingstone, 22, of Ramsey, Minn.; and Peter Shin, 29, of St. Paul.
A quick peek at the social-media footprint of one of these suspects also dispels another meme floating around the media. Augustine Z. Livingstone’s Facebook page has a fresh note up overnight acknowledging his “legal matters,” and a perusal of his other posts and interests make it very clear that he had been involved in the unrest for quite some time. It’s also clear that Livingstone’s no “white supremacist,” let alone a neo-Civil War “boogaloo,” a term that has suddenly sprung into fashion over the last couple of weeks. It’s a pretty fair guess that Livingstone’s partners in alleged crime weren’t white supremacists, either.
Not that Livingstone’s dispensing with the meme, at least through his friends. A GoFundMe page for the trio claims that police arrested them “after peacefully protesting & being chased by the KKK.” In a car with no plates? And peacefully protesting with two guns and a “grinding tool”? The idea that three young men with sufficient self-defense tools could be “chased by the KKK” in Minnesota is outright laughable, especially young men who just spent several days at least in the midst of the rioting.
Two more Minnesotans got charged yesterday with firebombing a courthouse in the suburbs, this time in federal court. These don’t appear to be white supremacists any more than they appear to be “outside agitators,” either. Nor do they appear to be particularly bright:
Two Minnesota men threw Molotov cocktails into Dakota County courthouse buildings early Friday during rioting that stretched across the Twin Cities in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death in police custody, according to charges unsealed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for Minnesota.
According to charges unsealed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in St. Paul, Fornandous Cortez Henderson, 32, of Savage, and Garrett Patrick Ziegler, 24, of Long Lake, threw the explosive materials. Each was charged with destruction of property used in interstate commerce and possession of Molotov cocktails. …
Officers found a set of car keys in the grass near the building that belonged to a Ford Fiesta registered to Ziegler, which had been parked in a nearby parking lot. A search of the car uncovered materials that could be used to make fire bombs, according to the charges.
After dousing the fire, authorities found Ziegler and Henderson on a road nearby and arrested them. The two suspects gave false statements to the officers, according to the charges.
It’s worth noting that arrests and indictments are not convictions, and prosecutors have to prove these charges in court. However, the dearth of arrests involving outsiders or white supremacists thus far seems to put paid to the idea that the riots are some kind of far-right reaction to the death of George Floyd. Even the Southern Poverty Law Center, a hard-left outfit itself, sees no evidence of white supremacists in the riot mix, as the New York Times reported earlier this week:
Signs of any organized effort or even participation in the violence were relatively rare. “I have not seen any clear evidence that white supremacists or militiamen are masking up and going out to burn and loot,” said Howard Graves, a research analyst at the Southern Poverty Law Center who tracks white supremacist and other anti-government extremist groups.
There will be no small amount of people eating their words in Minnesota in days to come. For that, though, they can thank their feckless leadership, including Walz, Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey, and Saint Paul mayor Melvin Carter for airing unsubstantiated rumors as fact and for flat-out lying about the nature of arrests in the riots.