Police in Minneapolis believe they have identified the "Umbrella Man" whose vandalism of an AutoZone on the second night of the George Floyd protests sparked widespread damage.
In a search warrant affidavit obtained by BMTN, a Minneapolis Police Department arson investigator says they believe the man to be a "fully-fledged" member of the Hell's Angels and an associate of the white supremacist biker gang known as the Aryan Cowboy Brotherhood.
The sole intention of the 32-year-old man was to "incite violence" at the protests, which up till the point he allegedly started causing damage had remained relatively peaceful outside the 3rd Police Precinct.
Wearing a gas mask, dressed in all black and carrying an umbrella, the man is caught on video smashing the windows to the AutoZone opposite the 3rd Precinct with a hammer. Protesters nearby shout at him to stop, with some later chasing him as he left the area.
It sparked a wave of property damage that saw multiple other buildings damaged, looted, and set on fire as the protests escalated into rioting on Tuesday, May 26 – the day after Floyd was killed during his arrest.
As well as smashing up the AutoZone, the Umbrella Man also graffitied "free s*** for everyone zone" on the front door of the business.
"Until the actions of the person your affiant has been calling 'Umbrella man,' the protests had been relatively peaceful," the affidavit reads.
"The actions of this person created an atmosphere of hostility and tension."
Same man was allegedly involved in Stillwater biker gang harassment
The Umbrella Man's actions also led to conspiracy theories about his identity, with St. Paul Police Department having to debunk internet posts that suggested it is one of its officers.
According to the search affidavit obtained by BMTN, police have linked Umbrella Man to an incident in Stillwater in June in which members of the Aryan Cowboy Brotherhood allegedly harassed a Muslim woman on Main Street.
The same man was among those in Stillwater that day and was pictured on the street, with police using this picture to link him to the videos of Umbrella Man.
Arson investigator Erika Christensen says she was tipped off to the individual's identity anonymously, with the tipster saying they received the information from another party who did not want to be named as they "fear" the suspect.
The person who submitted the tip told Christensen the man suspected of causing the damage at AutoZone "wanted to sow discord and racial unrest by breaking out the windows and writing what he did on the double red doors."
BMTN does not typically name suspects or persons of interest until they have been formally charged.
Note: Details provided in this story are based on the police's latest version of events in a court filing, and may be subject to change.