A masked man seen smashing the windows of a Minneapolis AutoZone during the George Floyd protests is now suspected to be linked to a white supremacist group and a prison gang.
The man, dubbed “Umbrella Man,” was filmed breaking the store’s windows with a sledgehammer during a May 27 demonstration. He also spray-painted “free s–t for everyone zone” on the store’s doors, according to a search warrant affidavit filed by Minneapolis Police Department arson investigator Erika Christensen.
The footage of the AutoZone incident went viral and led to claims that authorities were planting provocateurs at protests to start trouble. As the video circulated, a St. Paul Police officer was accused of being Umbrella Man. St. Paul Police later put out a statement to clear the cop’s name.
Christensen obtained warrants to gain access to the suspect’s cellphone records, according to The New York Times. Investigators believe the man is associated with the Aryan Cowboys and the Hells Angels biker gang. The Anti-Defamation League labeled the Aryan Cowboys a “white supremacist prison/street gang based primarily in Minnesota and Kentucky.”
Christensen also accused Umbrella Man of being present during “an incident in Stillwater Minnesota where a Muslim woman was racially harassed by a group of motorcycle club members wearing Aryan Cowboy leather vests.”
The man’s name has not been released to the public, but investigators were able to track him down after receiving an anonymous tip last week. The tipster reportedly claimed the man “wanted to sow discord and racial unrest by breaking out the windows and writing what he did on the double red doors.”
Christensen blamed Umbrella Man for inciting violence during the unrest following Floyd’s Memorial Day death. The AutoZone store was looted and set afire after Umbrella Man’s vandalism.
“This was the first fire that set off a string of fires and looting throughout the precinct and the rest of the city,” Christensen wrote in the filing.
“Until the actions of the person your affiant has been calling ‘Umbrella Man,’ the protests had been relatively peaceful. The actions of this person created an atmosphere of hostility and tension. Your affiant believes that this individual’s sole aim was to incite violence.”
No charges have been filed against the suspect.