CHICAGO, IL (FOX 9) - A 28-year-old Illinois man is facing federal charges for rioting and possessing explosive devices after he traveled to Minneapolis last week amidst the unrest caused by the death of George Floyd.
According to U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald, Matthew Lee Rupert, of Galesburg, Illinois, has been charged with civil disorder, carrying on a riot and possession of unregistered destructive devices.
He was arrested in Chicago after traveling there from Minneapolis to participate in the unrest there. He was arrested in the early morning hours Sunday by Chicago Police.
This is the first federally charged rioting case announced from last week's events. The charges come after officials claimed a majority of rioters were "outside agitators" from out of state, but jail data indicated otherwise.
According to the charges, Rupert posted messages on his Facebook account about the Minneapolis protests after the Memorial Day death of Floyd. In one message posted Thursday, he said, “I’m going to Minneapolis tomorrow who coming only goons I’m renting hotel rooms.”
Friday, he posted a cell phone video his Facebook in which he can be seen passing out explosive devices to others, encouraging them to throw them at law enforcement. He also actively damages property in the video and lit a building on fire before looting other businesses.
In the video, Rupert can be heard telling other rioters that he has explosives to throw at SWAT team members. He is seen handing an item with “brown casing and a green wick” to another person in the crowd. H
He can also be seen asking for lighter fluid before running into a Sprint store. After he enters the store he says, “I lit it on fire.”
The video shows Rupert looting an Office Depot location as well.
After his two nights in Minneapolis, Rupert posted on his Facebook that he would be heading to Chicago. In the early morning hours Sunday, Rupert posted videos to his Facebook showing him in the city saying things like, “Let’s start a riot” and “I’m going to start doing some damage.”
He was arrested at 2:21 a.m. along with “his associates” for violating the city’s curfew order.
In his vehicle, Chicago Police found destructive devices, a hammer, a heavy-duty flashlight and cash.
The FBI is urging the public to report suspected arson, use of explosive devices, or violent, destructive acts associated with the otherwise peaceful protests of the last week. Anyone with information can call the FBI at 1-800-CALLFBI (800-225-5324).