Man Sentenced to Prison for Arson During Minneapolis Riots: ‘I Lit It on Fire!’

An Illinois man was sentenced to nearly nine years in prison for lighting a cellphone store on fire in Minneapolis during the rioting after George Floyd’s death.

“The same man, Matthew Lee Rupert, 29, was arrested in Chicago and accused of trying to cause further ‘damage’ shortly afterward,” CBS Chicago reported on Wednesday.

According to court documents, on May 28, 2020, Rupert posted messages on his Facebook page referencing the protest that occurred after Floyd’s death.

One read, “I’m going to Minneapolis tomorrow who coming only goons I’m renting hotel rooms,” prosecutors stated.

The United States Attorney’s Office District of Minnesota detailed the events in a press release Tuesday:

On May 29, 2020, Rupert broadcast a Facebook Live video indicating that he was in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Rupert announced that he came “to riot,” and is depicted handing out artillery-shell fireworks, encouraging violence against law enforcement officers, actively damaging property, breaking into buildings, and looting businesses.

According to the defendant’s guilty plea and documents filed with the court, the video also depicts Rupert asking for lighter fluid before entering a boarded-up Sprint store located on Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis. Rupert canvassed the store and eventually entered a backroom while telling others that he had located a store safe. Rupert and others then knocked several boxes into a pile on the ground. Rupert doused the pile of boxes with lighter fluid and then directed another individual—at the time a juvenile—to light the pile on fire. Rupert fled the building and stated, “I lit it on fire!” The store sustained significant damage as a result of the fire.

Journalist Andy Ngô shared a photo of Rupert on Tuesday and said, “This is the longest sentence for a BLM rioter”:

“Matthew Rupert chose to drive more than 400 miles from his home in Illinois to Minnesota to engage in violence and destruction, all while broadcasting it for the world to see. Peaceful protest was not on his agenda,” Acting U.S. Attorney W. Anders Folk noted.

“Arson, looting, property damage, and the glorification of it, will not be tolerated. Today, justice has caught up with Mr. Rupert as he must now account for his crimes,” Folk concluded.


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