Minneapolis police say a man seen smashing the windows of an AutoZone on widely disseminated video footage was actually a white supremacist inciting violence. The incident occurred amid protests and riots surrounding the death of George Floyd in that city.
“The actions of this person created an atmosphere of hostility and tension,” arson investigator Erika Christensen said in a search warrant affidavit obtained by The Mercury News.
As seen on video, a man wearing black clothing and a gas mask smashed the windows of an AutoZone. He held an umbrella — even though it wasn’t raining. The May 27 incident occurred two days after George Floyd, 46, died in police custody. Four officers were charged in Floyd’s death. One of the now-former officers, Derek Chauvin, 44, was seen on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck, even after Floyd became unresponsive, prosecutors have reiterated. The incident struck a cultural fissure and tapped into an ongoing debate on how some law enforcement officers treat people of color.
“Umbrella Man” was described in the police affidavit as a 32-year-old member of “Aryan Cowboys.” The Anti-Defamation League describes the Aryan Cowboy Brotherhood as a “a small white supremacist prison/street gang based primarily in Minnesota and Kentucky.” The suspect, who hasn’t been arrested or identified by name, just wanted to stir up trouble, according to the police account.
He was also blamed for spray painting “free shit for everyone zone” on the business’s front doors. Police wrote that the identity of the suspect, who is also said to be a member of the Hell’s Angels motorcycle club, was suggested to them through an email tip.
Police also linked the suspect to a June 27 incident in Stillwater, Minnesota. They say bikers wearing Aryan Cowboy vests allegedly harassed a Muslim woman.
[Screengrab via KARE-TV.]
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]