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Dubbed “Umbrella Man” for an all-black getup that included hood, gas mask and black umbrella, police say the man’s actions soon led to an arson fire that was the first of several that transformed peaceful protests into chaos.
“This was the first fire that set off a string of fires and looting throughout the precinct and the rest of the city,” Minneapolis police arson investigator Erika Christensen wrote in a search warrant affidavit this week, the Star Tribune reported.
Police identified the 32-year-old suspect through an emailed tip last week, Christensen said.
The vast majority of protests in Minneapolis–Saint Paul have been peaceful. In Minneapolis, some initial acts of property destruction on May 27 by a 32-year-old man with ties to white supremacist organizations, who local police investigators said was deliberately inciting racial tension, led to a chain reaction of fires and looting.
Over a three-night period from May 27 to May 29, Minneapolis sustained hundreds of millions of dollars in damage from rioting and looting—largely along a 5-mile (8.0 km) stretch of Lake Street south of the city's downtown—including the demise of the city's third police precinct, which was overran and set it on fire by demonstrators after police forces retreated. Neighboring Saint Paul suffered damage to 246 buildings, mostly along the city's University Avenue business corridor.